At Monday night’s regularly scheduled City Council meeting, Councilors presented a number of new items that would strengthen the City’s parking and traffic infrastructure in the wake of this past weekend’s opening of Encore Boston Harbor.
An item introduced by Councilor John McKinnon proposed that the City consider a citywide 24/7 residential parking ordinance that would include weekends.
Twenty-four-hour resident-only parking stickers are already in effect for the streets surrounding Lower Broadway, and the administration is choosing to take a “wait and see” approach when it comes to other areas. Other possible areas that have been identified are Wards 1 and 6.
Councilor McKinnon told the Independent that he was worried that, despite Encore’s efforts to educate visitors about public transit options, out-of-town vehicles will still flood residential streets throughout the city, making it impossible for residents to park in their own neighborhoods.
He said that a 24/7 parking sticker would make it so “the citizens of Everett don’t have to worry about people just showing up and taking up all the parking and [taking an Uber] to the casino.”
But several councilors expressed concern about moving too hastily toward a 24/7 solution, worrying that it would have a negative impact on the small business community, which depends on out-of-town customers in order to thrive.
Councilor Rosa DiFlorio added that a resident-only ordinance would prevent residents from having out-of-town visitors.
“Are we going to tell them they can’t have a Sunday dinner with their children?” she said. “I have the right for my children and grandchildren to come see me in my home.”
Councilor Peter Napolitano called for patience around the parking issue.
“Let’s not jump the gun. Our voices have been heard,” he said. “Let some traffic data be collected. Let’s give them a chance.”
He added that the City had done “a heck of a job” managing the traffic flow around the casino during its grand opening on Sunday, and urged councilors to “watch and see” how the situation pans out over the summer months.
The issue was postponed until September.
Councilor DiFlorio also proposed that the Mayor look into building a five-story parking garage behind City Hall.
“There is a lot of congestion and parking is rare, and it’s going to get more rare,” she told Independent. “I think we need to be a little more proactive.”
She said a parking garage at City Hall made sense, citing the fact that Encore currently offers a Neighborhood Runner stop at City Hall.
Councilor Wayne Matewsky identified the intersection of Main and Tileston Streets as needing increased traffic police in order to assist with congestion in that area. The crossing is located just one mile north of the Encore resort.
The Independent spoke with Sheila Profenna, a lifelong resident of Tileston Street, who said the traffic in that area is worse than ever before, especially in the early morning and between 3:30 and 6 p.m.
“I’ve lived here 62 years and I’ve never seen the traffic this bad,” said Profenna. “It’s just a very, very big mess.”
According to her, this all started several months ago. Profenna said she even stopped trying to leave her house to run errands prior to 6 p.m.
“The lines of cars are so long. No one will let me out of my driveway,” she said. “I had to ask a neighbor to come over and stop cars so I could get out.”
Profenna also expressed concern that emergency vehicles would find it impossible to access her street during peak hours, creating a potential public safety concern.
The issue was referred to the Traffic Department and Sergeant Gaff of the Everett Police Department for immediate action.