City Agrees to Move Charlestown Zip Car Spaces after Local Backlash

By John Lynds

The City of Boston couldn’t have picked a worse location in Charlestown to place Zip Car parking spaces.

About three weeks ago, the City’s Transportation Department quitely installed two Zip Car parking spaces on Bunker Hill Street across from the Grasshopper Restaurant. The installation was met with immediate backlash from business owners and residents in the already congested section of Charlestown.

While many residents welcome the world’s largest car sharing company’s arrival in the neighborhood, the location and lack of planning was the main issue among residents and business owners.

Charlestown residents and State Rep. Dan Ryan said he was immediatly inundated with complaints. Business owners felt the spaces took away parking for patrons to places like the Grasshopper and residents felt taking away two on street parking spaces was detrimental the already tough parking situation in Charlestown.

This week the city announced it would move the spaces after pressure from residents and elected officials.

“I want to thank the Mayor’s office, BTD and Zip Car for responding to neighborhood concerns,” said Ryan.  “The way I see it, this was about more than two parking spots. There needs to be a more comprehensive approach to this New Urbanism. I applaud the City’s efforts over the years to bring in new ideas.  But, Boston is not Portland, Oregon or Europe. Our climate, geography and culture is far different than any place that I see these multi-model transportation studies coming from. For Zip-car, Hubway and other transportation ideas to be implemented efficiently we need to work with every type of traveler to come up with a plan that addresses our overcrowded streets but is culturally sensitive to Bostonians”.

Tom McKay, Charlestown’s liaison from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, said in a statement, “After reviewing the feedback received, the Transportation Department has determined that these spaces are to be moved to a new location. The location will be in Hayes Square at the corner of Vine Street and Tufts Street; the two spaces will be located in front of where the Hubway bike station is located.”

McKay said this small area is currently unregulated parking, so no resident parking will be taken away to accommodate the spaces.

“As of right now, Transportation is looking at Monday, November 23 for the relocation date, though this is subject to weather conditions,” he said.

Charlestown City Councilor Sal LaMattina applauded the city’s decision to move the spaces.

“We need to be more sensative in city government to the plight of residents in thickly settled neighborhoods like Chalrestown and plan better when it comes to placing programs like Zip Car and HubWay in our neighborhoods,” said LaMattina. “The city did a good job quickly responding to the issue and addressing the feedback from residents and business owners.”

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