For some folks, it can be work that takes over their lives.
For others, it can be a family situation or a home repair emergency.
For many in Charlestown, that outlying frustration that can take over their lives involves simply parking their car near their home.
They tell stories of paying thousands of dollars in tickets every year – dollar sums that rival their winter heating bills. They talk about having to wake up at the break of dawn to move their vehicle from a school parking lot to avoid being towed – often circling the block in their pajamas and with their fingers crossed that a space might magically open up.
That’s exactly the case for Shannon McLaughlin and her husband, both Boston Police officers who live in Charlestown, and a growing number of residents who are priming the pump this month for an upcoming signature drive to make some changes to the parking configuration in the Town. Specifically, they would like to change many of the ‘Resident Only’ 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday parking areas – changing them over instead to ‘Resident Only’ between the hours of 6 p.m. to 10 a.m. seven days a week. They would seek to exclude from the change main arteries like Bunker Hill Street, Main Street and Medford Street.
“The worst of it was driving around during the snow storms this year, coming home after my shift at 1 a.m.,” she said. “I really wanted to cry in the car. It was so frustrating. There were snow mounds on every corner and no place to park where I wouldn’t get a ticket. It’s 1 a.m. and I’m driving around and around and have been working since 6 a.m. the previous morning. The only option is to park in the school lot and then get up before 6 a.m. to move it so I won’t get towed. I pray that I can just find a spot in the school and then that I will be able to get myself up before 6 a.m. to move it so I don’t get towed. This is a constant for my husband and I.”
Then there are the tickets.
“We’ve lived on our street 12 years and I’ve paid thousands in parking tickets,” she said. “I had one year where we had $5,500 worth of tickets because of this. It came to a point where the car got impounded for a while when we were trying to catch up with all the tickets. It just doesn’t seem like the way that things should work for residents of Charlestown.”
So far, McLaughlin has enlisted the support of local attorney Erin Woods – and it hasn’t stopped there.
At this point, both have been informally canvassing the neighborhood to see what people think, and they’ve made a very vocal call on their Facebook pages to gauge interest.
Both said they have received major kudos for bringing up the issue.
“So many people have agreed with us,” said McLaughlin. “We have a lot of support so it’s more than one or two people who are thinking the same way. We haven’t talked to all the businesses yet, but the ones we have spoken to agree. Of course, we wouldn’t want to make this change on the three main arteries.”
Of course, getting agreement is one thing, but navigating the red tape and bureaucracy of the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) to institute such a change is a whole other can of worms.
That is why the eventual goal for McLaughlin and Woods and their supporters is to begin a signature drive throughout Charlestown when the warmer weather finally hits.
As part of the process to make such a change, they would have to get signatures on a change petition from 51 percent of the residents of the neighborhood.
“Once we get the signatures, we put it forth to our neighborhood liaison and he will bring it forth to the board at BTD,” she said. “I don’t see it being such a big deal whereas the City will profit off of it.”
Anyone wishing to lend support of help to the cause can reach either McLaughlin or Woods on their Facebook pages, which can be found by searching ‘Shannon McLaughlin Fabiano’ or ‘Erin Woods.’