By Seth Daniel
In a very mathematical proposal, the Blackstone/Franklin Neighborhood Association voted unanimously on Tuesday night for a proposal that would create metered visitor parking on Washington Street and shift new residential spaces to un-signed areas of Shawmut Avenue, among other changes.
The proposal is not a new venture, as it has been tried and rejected in part a few years ago by Shawmut Avenue neighbors who prefer that the street remain unregulated.
However, Blackstone and the South End Forum have heavily weighed in to try to eliminate unregulated parking areas in the South End, and Shawmut Avenue is one of the prime areas.
President Eric Huang said the effort started when business owners and Washington Gateway Main Street requested the Association endorse a plan to remove resident parking from the Washington Street sides of Blackstone a Franklin Squares.
Jenny Effron of Washington Gateway told the Association that it would be good for businesses to allow metered parking on Washington Street in between the two Squares.
“At some point it became residential parking between the parks for some reason,” said Huang. “Because we have new businesses coming to the neighborhood and Washington Street is more popular than ever, Washington Gateway approached us and asked if we would support getting meters back there. That jumpstarted a conversation about parking in the entire neighborhood, not just Washington Street.”
What has emerged is a very detailed plan to move several residential spots in the area from commercial centers to Shawmut Avenue – which Huang and others said has become known as the “commuter parking lot” of the South End due to its unrestricted parking.
First of all, the plan is to change 16 spaces from the Blackstone Square side to metered parking, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Another 17 resident spaces on the Franklin Square side would be converted to meters in the same fashion. Ten spaces on the north side of East Newton Street would then be converted to resident parking/visitor two-hour, with the seven outstanding spaces pushed onto unrestricted Shawmut Avenue areas.
That would give a total of 23 spaces from Washington Street moving over to Shawmut Avenue, where they would become signed, resident parking in what are currently unrestricted areas.
Huang said that there are now 86 unsigned spaces on Shawmut Avenue between Worcester Street and West Brookline. With the proposed new resident spaces, that would leave 63 unregulated spaces.
Blackstone is proposing to convert 32 of those unrestricted spaces to resident only spaces.
The remaining 31 spaces would become resident/two-hour visitor spaces.
The proposal would also mix the spaces on either side of the street so that entire blocks of resident or visitor spaces aren’t lost on Street Sweeping days.
This, he said, would eliminate the unregulated spaces on Shawmut and free up spaces for the business community in commercial districts. He said this was done in conjunction with the Worcester Square Area Neighborhood Association (WSANA) and the Hurley Blocks. An accommodation has been made for parking in front of St. Stephens Church on Shawmut Avenue, as is precedent with other churches in the neighborhood.
A final provision takes four unsigned spaces near Mass Avenue and Washington Street (Worcester Street and East Springfield) and converts them to meters.
There was no opposition at the meeting to the plan, but the matter has been a major neighborhood dispute in the past, even as recently as two years ago when a plan to sign Shawmut got pulled shortly after implementation.
Huang said there had been plenty of notice to those who might object, and they’ve not made their concerns known.
“We’ve given notice and we’ve done this with complete transparency,” he said. “It’s their choice whether they want to come to the meetings or not…People have been given notice and have had the opportunity be heard. Whether they want to take advantage of that or not and come to a meeting or submit comments, that’s their decision. We’re not going door to door informing people about what we’re doing. We don’t do that for anything.”
The vote at the meeting appeared to be 6-0.