By Seth Daniel
The controversial Boston Public Schools (BPS) plan presented to the community last month that would have dramatically reduced the parking situation for residents at the Edwards Middle School lot on Main Street has been scrapped for a new, more flexible plan that embraces residents.
In a letter to residents on Monday, Nov. 14, BPS Facilities Director John Hanlon said everyone has met and discussed the issue. The result has been a new plan that will be fully presented to residents in a meeting to be scheduled after Thanksgiving.
Hanlon said Boston Transportation Department (BTD) Director Gina Fiandaca and Councilor Sal LaMattina have been very helpful in brokering an agreement with residents and the school to allow for an entire section of 24-hour resident-only parking on half of the lot. The original plan had only a small portion of the lot reserved for residents and would have reduced the numbers of spaces dramatically through a re-striping program that would have prevented tandem parking.
All of those plans were adamantly rejected by residents at a lively Oct. 27 meeting in the Edwards. That meeting came as a result of a new policy enacted in early October that resulted in scores of vehicles being towed from the lot to East Boston around 6:30 a.m. on a Monday.
“We have devised a new plan for the lot that we believe will work for both the school and the residents,” wrote Hanlon. “We will section off the left side of the Main Street lot for residents only. We have collaborated closely with the Boston Transportation Department on all of these matters, and they have agreed to enforce that side of the lot. They will be installing resident only parking signs soon.”
He pointed out that non-residents parking in the new, proposed area would be ticketed and not towed.
The new resident-only area will be much larger than the original proposal and will comprise the entire side left of the driveway going all the way to the back fence. The plan also calls for BTD to add more resident-only parking along Main Street by the Edwards.
Meanwhile, the plan to organize and re-stripe the lot – which would have eliminated spaces – is no longer being considered.
Instead of re-striping, Hanlon wrote that there would be a clear division between the two sides of the lot and there would be a very obvious bus lane running from the driveway to the exit on the right side of the parking lot. The bus lane would be eliminated from the left side of the lot where residents can park.
“There will likely be no other lines in the lot. This will allow for more parking for residents and for school staff, but we hope that the neighborhood and the school will respect this arrangement in such a way that if tandem parking occurs, people will not drive over the sidewalk to leave the lot,” he cautioned. “Although residents will be free to park in the left side of the lot 24 hours a day, anyone parking on or driving over the sidewalk is still subject to ticketing or other violations.”
The rear parking lot on Eden Street, which is often also used by residents, will be re-striped.
A new provision entirely is the possibility of adding a driveway into the alley to the right of the school on Walker Street, which would likely create more parking spaces. Those spaces will be for school staff during the day and for residents to use from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. That area would also be striped for parking spaces.
Finally, he said one area of caution with the parking program would be during snow events – as everyone would have to exit the parking lot even in non-snow emergencies. “We will need all vehicles out of all lots so that we can plow, even on the resident only side of the Main Street lot,” he said. “Cars left in the lot during snowstorms are subject to being towed…We typically plow our lots upon any accumulation of snow, not just in snow emergencies. This is because even a light snowfall can freeze overnight and create safety hazards for residents, staff, and students.