The Audubon Circle Redesign project has proven to be a sore spot for members of the Audubon Circle Neighborhood Association (ACNA). At their monthly board meeting on July 17, the project was a major talking point.
Board President Dolores Boogdanian told the other members that she had spoken with Chris Osgood, chief of the streets, transportation, and sanitation, about the unsafe road conditions in certain areas of the neighborhood due to the reconfiguration.
She said that Osgood told her that the ideal situation would have been that the bike lane would have been part of the original construction plans, rather than built after the finalization of the construction plans, which Boogdanian said she agrees with.
“Our goals are the same as the city’s here,” Boogdanian said. “We want everyone to be safe, we want bicyclists to be safe, but right now we don’t have a safe situation.”
Board member Kathy Greenough believes that the addition of the bike lane is a significant reason for the narrowness of the travel lanes, which poses a huge threat to both drivers and pedestrians because there is less room for everyone to see and maneuver properly.
Board member David Lapidus said that he doesn’t think the city took into account such “non-obvious things” as UPS trucks and Uber drivers, which now have no room to pull over onto the side of the roadm, and they end up just taking up a whole lane. He said that before the reconfiguration, there was more room to pull over.
“I think there’s a huge failure to address the sort of non-conventional things that are just part of everyday city living,” Lapidus said. “They made it exponentially worse.”
Even parked cars are not safe. Board member Richard One said his side mirror got taken off this past week, because there is not sufficient room for cars to pass.
Boogdanian said that Osgood told her that he would take her comments back to Transportation Planner Charlotte Fleetwood and the engineering department at the Boston Transportation Department.
ACNA Clerk Kerry Do suggested that an email should be put out asking residents how they feel about the new traffic and parking patterns and to report any issues they have had, such as a lost side mirror.
“It can’t be left the way it is because it’s unsafe,” said Boogdanian. She said that people who are trying to pull off of side streets on Beacon Street are unable to see what is coming, drivers are unable to see bicyclists, bicyclists cannot see who is turning onto side streets because the parked cars are in the way, and it is dangerous for people to get out of their cars on the street.
She said she had reached out to Fleetwood with various concerns regarding the project, but had not heard from her.
“I will continue to ask Charlotte to respond since she’s the Senior transportation planner and this is her project,” Boogdanian said.
Another big talking point at the meeting was the redesign agreement between ACNA and the City. Boogdanian said that the identification clause states that ACNA would be responsible for any injury related to anything they do. They would also be required to indemnify the city, and if someone sues the city because of something ACNA has done, ACNA would have to defend the city.
Boogdanian said that she understands why they want ACNA to take responsibility for everything that they do, but she things that protecting the city from potential lawsuits is “onerous” and “distracting.”
She said that she wants to speak with Fleetwood about who ACNA needs to talk to about what the city is really looking for them to do.
“I just think [the agreement] is very unclear because anecdotally, what I’ve heard from Katie [Choe] and from Charlotte is that they just want us to pick up the trash and water the flowers,” Boogdanian said.
But she said that the agreement “sounds like way more than picking up the trash and watering the flowers.” She said that it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing to have to water the flowers, because some people in the neighborhood might actually enjoy doing something like that.
“We’re getting verbally descriptions of what we’re supposed to do that does not match what’s written,” Boogdanian said. “So I would just like to try and put the two together.”
Lapidus said that ACNA should have no liability.
Another topic of conversation was the parklet that is situated in front of Mei Mei restaurant on Park Drive. Ong said that the parklet was supposed to be taken out in the winter and only installed in the summer. “Since whenever, that’s just been left there and now that we have a shortage in parking, it’s been proposed at several meetings that that should be removed permanently.”
The parklet is taking up two spaces of residential parking, but it is being used by Mei Mei customers. Do said that she thinks it’s reasonable to have it out there seasonally, and Boogdanian said that she would call Yissel Gurrero, the city’s neighborhood liason, regarding the parklet.
The board also briefly discussed the construction parking at 839 Becon Street. Boogdanian said that the Boston Transportation Department told her that it is unsafe for people to park on the east side of the street that’s closed for construction.
However, contractors are allowed to park there, and Greenough said that the 24/7 restricted parking near the construction “makes a very narrow street even more difficult to maneuver.”
The Board hopes to receive more information about what they discussed at the meeting and will continue to reach out to the appropriate people.