By Seth Daniel
The Charlestown Neighborhood Council (CNC) voted unanimously at its Oct. 2 meeting to ask the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) to re-examine last year’s change in direction of one-way Allston Street, and to look at a comprehensive solution that solves the issue once and for all.
“I think we should ask the BTD to use Allston Street as a catalyst and give us options to make streets up and down so we don’t have to go to Polk Street (by Charlestown High School) with a passport to get here,” said CNC Chair Tom Cunha.
The streets running cross-ways between Bunker Hill Street and Medford Street have long been an issue because they all basically have run down the hill. The lone exception was Allston Street, which neighbors there said had become a speedway for cars looking to cut-through.
So, in 2016, after some study, the BTD changed its direction to match the rest of the streets – giving nine one-way streets and the only up hill option being all the way past Charlestown High School on Polk Street.
Since the change, many have been irritated by it and the situation – while solving a dangerous situation for neighbors on Allston Street – has made life harder for everyone else.
CNC Member Mary Boucher has been talking about the issue for some time, and started a Facebook petition earlier this year to get some attention and action on the issue.
She backed up the call for action at the BTD, saying they need to provide some data and study all configurations.
However, the discussion wasn’t about sticking it to Allston Street neighbors, but rather allowing them to keep their change and, perhaps, study how other streets can reverse direction.
“We can’t just make the people on Allston Street mad and say to put it back the way it was,” said Cunha. “We need two or three going up and two or three going down. They need to do car counts on all the streets and solve this thing once and for all.”
•Many neighbors from Albion Place and Armory Street came out in force to ask the CNC to oppose a plan by Christian Poyant of 22 Albion Pl. to get a curb cut to the rear patio that would provide two compact car parking spaces on a very narrow spit of land.
The matter has a variance hearing at the Zoning Board of Appeals on Oct. 17 in City Hall, but neighbors were hoping for community support.
Neighbors Mary Courville, Jennifer Taves and Chung Suckheui led the charge to oppose the matter, but a handful of other neighbors from the small street off of Main Street were on hand.
Poyant was not there, however.
“It’s not a viable plan at all and it will eliminate some of our street parking spaces on the other side,” said Courville. “It would be impossible to get in and out.”
Added Taves, “There’s no way a car can get out of there with cars parked on the street across. They will damage the cars.”
CNC Chair Tom Cunha said he is in opposition.
“it’s to the point that if I can squeeze my car in there, I’m going to make a parking space no matter what inconvenience it causes to my neighbors,” he said. “That’s why I’m opposed.”
Member Karson Tager said he wouldn’t oppose it.
“I’m going to be the odd man out here,” he said. “We live in the city and I think that’s part of where we live.”
Member Bill Galvin said it’s a very sticky situation because the applicant wasn’t even at the meeting. Galvin revisited the stale old topic of how he said Mayor Martin Walsh took power away from the CNC to conduct hearings in its Basic Services Committee. In the old days, he said, both parties would have been represented and the CNC could have taken a position.
“One party comes in and we haven’t afforded the other party to present the other side of this,” he said. “It’s difficult for us procedurally to take a fair vote without a public hearing for both sides.”
Many on the CNC said they would oppose it, but as individuals.
•Salt Pile – Member Mary Boucher said a salt ship had come in last week, and left salt uncovered. They have 24 to 48 hours to cover and salt brought into the port. She said the salt had come in on Friday, Sept. 29, and was still uncovered on Monday, Oct. 2.
She said that maybe it’s time to revisit some oversight on the salt pile, and maybe form a committee.
“We have a lot of kids down there on the fields playing and if that salt is dangerous, we have a whole other issue to think about,” she said.
•Elections for the CNC will be held on Nov. 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Hayes Square. Nomination papers for offices up for re-election are due by Friday, Oct. 27. One must have 25 signatures of residents over 18 to get on the ballot for any particular seat.
Cunha said they will allow nicknames on the ballot this year, as some members are not known around the Town by their real names.