Parking garage moves ahead

The city is seeking bids to construct the garage, and the Parking Authority and city are negotiating a funding agreement.

The proposed deal calls for the Parking Authority to seek a revenue bond to raise cash for the construction, and for the city to lease back the garage and pay off the bonds through its payments. The authority will manage the garage.

A parking garage, parking deck or parking lot has been discussed for Library Place since the 1970s, said Danbury Parking Authority member Robert Steinberg.

"This is a good way to move it forward," Steinberg said.

The plan is to build a deck or two on top of the existing parking lot, which is on Library Place about a half-block up from Main Street, creating space for about 275 cars.

"I hope I live long enough to see it," said Charles Bardo, 87, a former executive director of the Parking Authority. Bardo worked for the authority in the 1980s and 1990s when it completed the Patriot Garage near the green downtown.

"When the first parking garage was built, people couldn't believe we'd build something that size," said Mark Chory, a Parking Authority member. "It's well maintained, and people feel safe there. Now we wouldn't be able to survive downtown without it."

Steinberg agreed.

"You can't imagine 2,000 people coming to downtown Danbury to watch a Trasher's hockey game without the parking garage," he said. "They're eating in restaurants, they're shopping, and the parking makes that possible."

To pay for a new garage, city voters approved $5 million in the Vision 21 Squared bond package. The money was supposed to be enough to build two parking structures downtown. Voters wanted one on Liberty Street and one on Library Place. Once the city started researching the issue, it discovered the cost for one structure would be $7 million or $7.5 million, versus the original estimates of $2.5 million each. The city picked the Library Place location.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said the city has spent roughly $1.5 million designing and planning the new garage, as well as creating a feasibility study of the parking needs downtown. The balance of the money would go toward construction.

The plan is not set in concrete, though. One question is whether the Parking Authority is allowed to bond millions of dollars.

"We have to look at the impact on the taxpayers. We have to see what the authority is capable of," Boughton said.

Contact Mark Langlois


or at (203) 731-3337.