Parking meter charges reinstated as new app arrives

Selectboard logo, May 20, 2019
Chair John Hurd suggested giving first-time violators a break.

UPDATED, Oct. 29: “All good things must come to an end,” wrote Chaucer, and that includes free parking in Arlington, which ends Nov. 4, as unanimously approved by the Select Board.

“With traffic picking up, and pay-by-phone up and running by the beginning of November, we want to turn the meters ― on the street, in the Russell Common parking lot and at the railroad lot ― back on," Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine said Oct. 19.

The town announced Oct. 28 a new pay-by-phone app coming Wednesday.

In an exception that has occurred for years, the meters in the two lots will be exempt on the last Saturday in November and the first three Saturdays in December, to support businesses during the holiday season, he said.

Board Chair John Hurd suggested having a “one-off,” because people may not know that the meters have been turned back on. “This isn’t a motion, and can be discussed further,” he said. Hurd clarified Oct. 26 that he meant giving first violators a break. Administratively, "I recommended giving the treasurer's department the authority to forgive one parking ticket per license plate, since many residents are used to the meters being turned off," he wrote.

Marijuana license still available

The last recreational-marijuana license remains available, as the board voted to not approve the host community agreement for marijuana provider Calyx Peak. The vote was 2-3 (yes: Hurd and DeCourcey; no: Curro, Diggins and Mahon).

Although Board Vice Chair Joseph Curro Jr. respects Calyx Peak’s retail experience, he didn’t feel comfortable with the Summer Street location. “It worked OK as a gas station, but it has a more complicated configuration since housing went in. It’s close to school routes and youth congregation, which is an issue for me.”

The other applicant, Arlington-based The Human Connection, requested a site that is “not viable,” said Hurd, as it was within 2,000 feet of an existiung marijuana establizhiment, Eskar, proposed for Broadway. The proposed location was Buzzy's Bazaar, behind Menotomy Grille. There was no vote.

"The location they're looking at is not viable with the zoning bylaws,” Hurd said.  "I spoke to another business owner in that site who wasn't even aware that there was potential for a marijuana shop to go into that complex. So I don't know the viability of working that complex to find a suitable location.”   

Emergency extended

The Select Board extended Arlington’s declaration of Covid-19 emergency to the same date as the state’s, whatever that turns out to be. Hurd confirmed Oct. 26 that the end dates will be the same, "unless we vote to terminate it prior to the commonwealth.  That way we do not need to keep extending."

The board concurs that Covid continues to pose a “present, reasonable and imminent danger to the public health, safety or general welfare of the people of Arlington,” according to the second renewal of the town’s declaration of emergency.

“The state of emergency, both on the state level and from a board of health perspective, continues because the declaration expires this month. This declaration extension makes it clear there’s a state of emergency in town, and that we’re taking measures, such as closing Town Hall, requiring certain things of town employees and the reimbursement for state and federal aid,” explained Town Counsel Doug Heim. 

CDBG program activities approved

The board unanimously approved all CDBG-CV3 program activities recommended by the CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) subcommittee.

“The CDBG subcommittee recently received an additional $320,485 to help provide relief in these times we’re facing. We recommend $200,000 for the business assistance program and $120,485 toward public services. The business-assistance program potentially gives grants of $10,000 to up to 20 businesses, but we request flexibility to keep businesses afloat,” said Chapdelaine. 

“The faster we receive Select Board approval, the faster we can start the process with HUD [Housing and Urban Development] and get the money into the hands of people in need. We hope to make these distributions by year-end,” he added.

Board member Steve DeCourcey agreed: “The sooner we get this done, the sooner we can help businesses.”

Parking, traffic concerns addressed

The board addressed several issues related to parking and traffic safety:

Thorndike Street overnight parking request denied

Residents at 43 Thorndike St. cannot park on the street overnight, as unanimously decided by the board.

Based on the traffic commissioner’s report, which recommends not waiving the town’s overnight parking ban, the board instead suggested they use the high school or a nearby municipal lot.

Although 43 Thorndike St. has a driveway, it can accommodate only one car, and the owners have two cars. 

“When we moved in this past July, we realized the driveway isn’t wide enough for both cars and weren’t aware of the overnight parking ban. We need both our cars for work, and have a son with medical complications,” said resident Matthew O’Connor.

Select Board member Steve DeCourcey explained, “Our town’s standards that we’ve applied in the past are high, and make it very difficult to grant a waiver.” 

“These bans exist because many areas in town are very dense, and residents don’t want on-street parking. A potential solution would be smaller cars, such as smart cars,” said Board member Len Diggins.

Curro explained, “Banning overnight parking keeps down the traffic, which becomes a safety issue at night. I know it’s a big inconvenience, but at Town Meeting, every precinct votes to keep the ban.”

“About a year and a half ago, we discussed the ban, and I anticipate we’ll resume these discussions. We’ll discuss making a checklist for overnight parking requests. The first question will be, “Do you have parking? If yes, we’ll go no further,” said Hurd.

Shared streets at Brooks Ave. update

The board voted unanimously to receive a letter from Daniel Amstutz, Arlington’s senior transportation planner, regarding the Brooks Ave. shared-street update.

This shared-street project was reinstalled Aug. 6. Project modifications include: removing Brooks Ave. from Lake Street to Chandler Street, and Chandler Street from Brooks Ave. to Herbert Road; changing the signs at the soft gateways and adding more traffic calming strategies. 

Lower Washington Street safety

The board also voted unanimously to receive a resident letter regarding safety conditions on part of Washington Street next to the bike path. This two-way private way, which serves as a connecting Brattle and and Summer streets, has a narrow passage at a sharp turn.

“This is a problem-solving issue, which I’ll ask the assistant town manager to address,” said Chapdelaine. 

Contract/drainlayer license approved

The board unanimously approved a contract/drainlayer license for New England Pipe Restoration, Inc., Leominster. 

New election workers approved

The board approved 4-0 (Curro recused, citing a conflict of interest) the following nine election workers: 

  • Carol Cohen, Pct. 12
  • Sierra Curro, Pct. 13
  • Charlotte Doud, Pct. 5
  • Margaret Eskridge, Pct. 16
  • Katherine Geusz, Pct. 11
  • Hannah Kelnhofer, Pct. 19
  • Matthew Maes, Pct. 10
  • Julie Powers, Pct. 12
  • Jeffrey Zimmer, Pct. 16
 See the ACMI video of the Oct. 19 meeting:

Oct. 23, 2020: Police, animal control investigate kennel license petition 

Oct. 14, 2020: E. Arlington, Summer St. plans vie for last recreational-marijuana license


This news summary, by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert, was published Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Updated Oct. 28, to add link to pay-by-phone app.