Our View: Walk!

by The Cape Cod Chronicle

The recent preliminary report on the Cape Cod Commission’s parking study of downtown Chatham concludes that there’s plenty of parking space available for residents and visitors, even at the height of the summer season.

Not all of them are in the core downtown area between the rotary and 400 Main St., however.

During each of the days commission staff monitored downtown parking lots, while cars circled in vain for spaces in already overcrowded downtown lots, there were plenty of spaces just a few blocks away. On each of the days, parking was available at the elementary school on Depot Road and at the Eldredge Garage. We can draw two conclusions from this.

First, people don’t want to pay for parking, even if it means burning gas to try to find a free spot. And second, people would also rather circle endlessly than walk a couple of blocks. It’s just over a third of a mile from the elementary school to the rotary — a quarter of a mile if you cut through the community center from Depot Road — hardly a hardship for most people, especially if they plan to stroll Main Street.

The parking working group will be looking closely at the preliminary results of the study as well as conclusions contained in the final report, expected next year. But a start may be bigger signs directing visitors to the elementary school and Eldredge Garage lots. The current signs are small and easily overlooked. Maybe something a bit more eye catching than the white lettering on green background of the current signs. Hot pink, maybe? Add a shark graphic or two to draw attention? Or better yet, hire a Monomoy High student to don the school’s shark mascot outfit and direct people to parking areas, and maybe lead them from the lot to downtown? It seems silly and a waste of resources to have a shuttle run the short distance, and given the study results, it’s unlikely anyone will park at the middle school, a more justifiable distance for a shuttle.

Are there other solutions? We want to hear from our readers. And hopefully the town does, too.