Scenes at the Parker Harding Plaza parking lot this week. / Photos by Gretchen Webster

By Gretchen Webster

WESTPORT — The debate over plans to remodel the Parker Harding Plaza parking lot will get an airing before the Representative Town Meeting in September.

A petition calling for a forum on the controversial plans, with the required number of voter signatures, was certified Wednesday by Town Clerk Jeffrey Dunkerton. 

Fifty-eight of the petition signatures were verified, more than enough to place the item on an RTM agenda, Dunkerton said. The issue was forwarded to RTM Moderator Jeff Wieser to be included on the legislative body’s September agenda.

In part, the petition reads: 

“In the interest of having a full and transparent public discussion on the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee’s goals, process and proposed plan for Parker Harding, we request that the RTM add to its September 5, 2023 agenda … a review of the DPIC’s goals, process and proposed plan for Parker Harding.”

The Downtown Plan Implementation Committee’s plans to redesign and repair the Parker Harding lot have prompted criticism over the last several months, primarily from downtown business owners and nearby residents.

The plans — scheduled to be reviewed at a July 5 Flood and Erosion Control Board meeting — have been primarily criticized for proposing elimination of the access road between Main Street and Post Road East and cutting 44 parking spaces.

A second petition — posted online June 3 at change.org — had collected 1,184 signatures as of early Thursday in opposition to the DPIC plans.

“We the undersigned respectfully OPPOSE the … proposed plan to eliminate the Parker Harding access road and forty-four parking spaces. … This proposed plan will result in traffic throughout Westport and make finding downtown parking more difficult,” the petition states. The petition was started by Douglas Enslin.

An online petition is not considered an official request requiring government action, according to Dunkerton. To bring an issue before the RTM, the signatures of at least 20 voters must be verified by the Town Clerk’s Office before it can be added to an agenda.