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AYER — The town, in partnership with a local property owner, has made available an additional 20 spaces of free parking for the downtown business district and regional Mass Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) commuters using the historic Ayer station. The Board of Selectmen took the action in response to the closure of a private parking lot that previously served commuters.

Commuters may park at their own risk in the Park Street lot situated between the fire station and Dunkin’ Donuts, said town administrator Shaun Suhoski.

“It will certainly be convenient for commuters to grab a quick coffee and bagel for the morning train ride,” he said.

The interim measure will provide overflow parking while the town implements a “smart growth” development to expand capacity at an existing 80-space parking area serving the rail station and Nashua River Rail Trail, he said.

The Board of Selectmen met recently with state and federal officials to lobby for the release of up to $5.15 million in state and federal funds already earmarked for the project. The funds need to be transferred to the Montachusett Regional Transit Authority (MART) to commence feasibility and design of the new parking facilities, according to Suhoski. The Ayer station serves a regional population with ridership primarily coming from Ayer, Groton, Pepperell, Townsend and Dunstable. It also has the highest percentage of walk-up riders of all stations in MART’s service area.

“The new parking facilities downtown will serve the regional demand for commuter parking and supplement the downtown business district,” said Suhoski. “The project is the capstone of over $20 million in public and private investments downtown in the last five years.”

Other projects completed downtown include:

* Construction of a new fire station on a former vacant, brownfield site.

* Redevelopment of the historic Page-Moore block into a thriving commercial center and upscale billiards hall.

* Renovation of the Spaulding building to include seven affordable rental units above the first-floor commercial space.

* Complete restoration of the 130-year-old Town Hall.

* Ongoing sign and façade rehabilitation program through the Department of Planning and Development.