City officials have finally given some clarity to neighbors who have been perturbed since last summer about the sudden removal of South End resident parking on Washington Street, parking which was supposed to be replaced with Roxbury resident parking.
In the second Alexandra Ball Neighborhood Association (ABNA) meeting, the group’s primary issue for the moment has been to understand what happened to their parking last summer.
Mayoral Liaison Faisa Sharif said there was an order from Councilor Kim Janey to change the South End parking on Washington Street – between Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard – to Roxbury resident parking. That, however, ran into a problem due to South End stickers already being issued to residents.
The result was green signs for general two-hour parking between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
“The issue with Boston Transportation Department not changing them back to Roxbury signs is because a majority of your resident parking stickers were South End and they had been issued already and are good for two years,” said Sharif. “We decided to keep the South End for now…The conversation is do you want the signs to stay green (two-hour parking) or do you want them to say Roxbury…Changing it back from a Roxbury sign to a South End sign is not a decision we will make in a vacuum without the Councilor’s acquiescence…It’s not a conversation that’s going to happen without (Councilor Janey).”
Neighbor Peter Mirabile said they worked very hard to get the signs up about 15 years ago and they were simply removed on a whim. He said he came back from a trip to the West Coast to find them missing.
“We had worked hard with BTD to get those signs up,” he said. “In the early 2000s we got them up. Where was the conversation with us about removing them? I want to know why we have to suffer from a decision made in a vacuum.”
Others said they typically go towards the South End for most of their needs, and find the sticker for resident parking to be helpful on Tremont Street or up at SoWa. Likewise, it is also helpful to have the resident parking/two hour parking zone on Washington Street. However, they also said there was quite a bit of resident parking on the side streets like Newcomb and Reed streets.
Many neighbors were upset about the change, and Fannie Martinez implored everyone to work together on the issue.
“It’s an issue that has been going on for more than 20 years,” she said. “The problem is we have something here one day and the next day something different. We need to make sure everyone is together. On Shawmut Street, we have nothing at all.”
A key issue is making sure that commuters are blocked from parking there, as many using the Silver Line, going to the Orange Line at Ruggles or employees from Boston Medical Center park in the neighborhood where regulations aren’t uniform.
President James Dilday said it would make sense for now to keep the green signs, but make the restrictions end at 6 p.m. instead of 8 p.m.
“People come home from work and they can’t park on that street until after 8 p.m.; I think it would be better to end at 6 p.m.,” he said.
Sharif said that was an “easy lift,” and could be done in a matter of weeks. She also said she has heard that Councilor Janey does not intend on making the change to Roxbury on any side streets. During a tiff with the new Residence Inn developer, who named the hotel as being in the South End, Janey apparently fired back by changing the resident parking signs to Roxbury. Janey’s office has never returned a call or e-mail from the Sun for an answer on the matter.
• DOG PARK MAY NOT BE FOR EVERYONE
A discussion on how to activate Ramsey Park with a recent $25,000 development mitigation payment revealed that there is some headbutting going on between dog owners in ABNA and those who do not own dogs.
Several neighbors and President Dilday had Christine Brandao of the Parks Department down to talk about how to establish a dog park at Ramsey near the Transformer – a move that is hoped by some to move away a group that frequently hangs out there.
Brandao said the first step is getting some funding and establishing a non-profit group to build and maintain the park.
That’s when the $25,000 payment came into play.
“That’s if everyone agrees to a dog park,” said Jerome Branch, president of Mandela Tenants.
He and others said there is already a big problem in the park with dog owners letting their dogs off-leash and urinating and pooping in the park. He said they have a big problem with dogs at Mandela as well.
Another neighbor said the Cooper Day Care has been complaining for years about bad behavior in general at Ramsey, and more recently about the numbers of dogs using the park.
“It’s a problem now,” said the neighbor. “The daycare should be staging a complaint now.”
Brandao said she would find out more about the mitigation payment, and also provide more information and coordination on figuring out if a dog park is the best option.
• POLICE GET PRESSURE FOR TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT
Capt. Steve Sweeney told ABNA he has had motorcycle officers positioned on Washington Street after neighbors at the last meeting complained of high-speed driving along the open stretch of road.
However, the Department received a complaint that police were targeting only black drivers.
“It’s not true, but we would ask for help from you in that you asked for the enforcement,” he said. “We will provide the enforcement, but if we get backlash, we’re not going to need neighborhood support.”
• OFFICER FREEMAN MOVES TO ANOTHER POST
Sgt. James Freeman had been a fixture at meetings for some time in the South End as the Community Service Officer, but now he has moved on to another post.
Now, Sgt. Paul DeLeo has taken up the job and will be the officer attending most South End meetings. Freeman was well known for focusing efforts to help quality of life for residents dealing with the opiate epidemic – sometimes even on his personal time.
• TRAFFIC STUDY MOVING AHEAD
The Active Transportation Team attended ABNA on Tuesday to talk about the work they’ve been doing for the past several months in the Lower Roxbury area of the South End.
After having taken input since last summer, they said they are now ready to move on to the next phase of designing for the things they heard about. Some of the things that have been suggested for Washington Street – one of the more dangerous streets in the area – are medians, islands and flashing beacons.
The next ABNA meeting is on March 10, 7 p.m., in the Grant AME Church on Washington Street in the basement.