Parking is a contentious issue, and the general consensus among the community was that there is not enough downtown parking. In order to achieve goals of creating a walkable community, the city and community will need to evaluate and devise a strategy to address parking.
On-street parking should continue to be incorporated to the greatest extent possible. On-street parking is convenient because it is located closer to storefronts and it enriches downtown areas by focusing pedestrian activity on the sidewalk. On-street parking also helps calm traffic. As redevelopment occurs in the downtown, and specifically along Gilbo Avenue, on-street parking should be incorporated into the streetscape design.
Structured parking facilities should be preferred over the creation of additional surface lots. Such facilities should be strategically located throughout the downtown to support the recommendation in the 2002 Transportation Master Plan that Keene should be a park-and-walk community that values pedestrian and bicyclists primarily and automobiles secondarily. These parking facilities should also include a mix of uses if any portion of the facility defines the streetscape, in order to ensure a vibrant and human-scaled streetscape.
Surface parking lots increase the amount of impervious surfaces and stormwater runoff and should be strongly discouraged. They also create gaps in the urban fabric, counteracting the massing strategies that define the downtown area. However, surface parking lots can be appropriate if the sizes of these lots are scaled down, creating smaller parking areas tucked behind buildings.
Keene is at a great advantage because all downtown parking needs can be met through linkages to bicycle, walking and transit routes, and by providing a diversity of parking options.