Aside from passing Keene’s budget for the next fiscal year, city councilors approved several other measures at their meeting Thursday night, including a tweak to how parking operations are managed and enforced.
Of the 15-member body, councilors Stephen L. Hooper and Bartlomiej K. “Bart” Sapeta were absent.
A unanimous vote by the council Thursday shifted parking operations from the police department to the city manager’s office under Medard K. Kopczynski, Keene’s director of economic development initiatives.
The change had no impact on the city’s budget.
City Manager Elizabeth A. Dragon explained in a phone interview Friday that moving the responsibilities to her office will make it easier to incorporate parking into future plans for the downtown area.
She specifically cited a continuing project to update the city’s land-use code, for instance. Potential changes to zoning code could impact parking, she said, so handling it within the same department makes sense moving forward.
“I think that we can do a better job at managing our existing supply of parking and increase the awareness of some of the parking lots and spaces that are typically underutilized,” she said.
Part of that effort will involve education and outreach, Dragon said, but pricing is also a big factor.
“Striking the right balance between supply and demand is important and if we want to continue to have a successful, vibrant downtown, parking has got to be a part of that conversation,” she said.
Downtown visitors are not likely to see any changes, she said, and parking will still be enforced as normal, but the hope is to shift the focus.
“Enforcement will still be important, but we want to spend more time and effort on the other pieces, such as planning and outreach and improving customer service,” Dragon said.
Councilors also approved the following at their meeting Thursday:
Writing a letter to Gov. Chris T. Sununu and legislators in Concord demanding the state restore its funding obligations to municipalities. The letter will be written by the mayor and signed by any councilors who wish to sign it. (passed 12-1, with Councilor Robert S. Sutherland opposed)
Funding for the replacement of a defunct traffic light at Park Avenue and Arch Street using $85,000 from this fiscal year’s fund balance (passed unanimously)
The following proposals were sent to council committees, which meet this week and allow comments from the public:
The N.H. Lottery Commission wants the city to include a ballot question in the November election regarding keno, an electronic gambling game. Keene voters rejected that same measure in 2017 by nearly a 2-1 margin. (Sent to municipal services committee, Wednesday at 6 p.m.)
The Keene Public Library trustees want to prohibit smoking on the library’s property. (Sent to municipal services committee, Wednesday at 6 p.m.)
Councilor Terry M. Clark asks the council to consider adopting rules regarding finance reporting for city elections. (Sent to finance committee, Thursday at 6:30 p.m.)
An ordinance would change the definition of a quorum for boards and commissions in the city. (Sent to finance committee, Thursday at 6:30 p.m.)
An ordinance would change the membership rules for the College City Commission, specifically regarding Keene State College’s appointed members. (Sent to finance committee, Thursday at 6:30 p.m.)