Three months after Encore Boston opened its doors to the public, City officials met with Council on Sept. 3, to update them on the parking situation on Lower Broadway.
Prior to its summer recess back in June, Council meetings were dominated by concerns about how the casino opening would impact the day-to-day life of residents in Everett, not the least of which was the worry that residential districts would be flooded with non-residents parking along the streets and taking public transportation down to the resort.
At that time, some Councilors felt that the City’s focus on Lower Broadway was too small in scope and ignored potential issues outside of this area. It was agreed that the city would address Council in another three months to provide an update.
Everett Police Sergeant Joe Gaff and the Mayor’s Chief of Staff Kevin O’Donnell announced that the traffic and parking situation on Lower Broadway was “better than anybody anticipated,” something they attributed to educating the community about using public transportation.
“Everybody who’s put their energy down there is reaping the rewards. Businesses are happy with their business passes and sticker program,” said Sgt. Gaff. “The parking lot has only been full a couple of times. We’re working with rideshare companies. The police presence has really helped us. They were forced to work weekends for the whole summer.”
The sergeant also gave out some preliminary statistics.
Since opening weekend, the city issued 280 Everett resident stickers on Lower Broadway. They also gave out 297 visitors passes for short stays, such as home healthcare visits. The City issued 31 business placards with time restrictions on them, of which seven were returned. Sixty-four one-day passes were issued for things like family gatherings where out-of-town guests need to park for more than a few hours.
“It’s not 100 percent but we’re working on it,” he said, adding that Friday and Saturday nights are the most challenging. “We are tweaking a couple of things. We haven’t gotten many complaints.”
City Councilor Michael McLaughlin, who had originally foreseen a nightmare parking situation for residents due to the surge in out-of-town visitors, admitted that the City had followed through with its promises.
“I was wrong,” he said. “I thought it was going to be chaotic down there and it wasn’t. It worked out well.”
Given the success of the parking management on Lower Broadway since June, Councilor McLaughlin introduced a resolution to bring 24/7 parking sticker enforcement to his Wards 1 and 6.
He said that the issue is now affecting neighborhoods beyond Sweetser Circle, on places like Main, Baldwin, Prescott and Everett streets. People are parking on these streets and taking public transportation, a problem he believes will only increase in the winter when people are less likely to walk places.
“Lower Broadway is proof that 24/7 can work,” said the councilor, stating that the City should look into how a 24/7 parking sticker initiative can be put in place citywide, taking Everett “section by section, so as not to overwhelm the whole city.”
Councilor McKinnon also introduced a resolution to expand 24/7 residential parking citywide, making sure that weekends are included in the wording.
Sgt. Gaff said he is open to expanding 24/7 parking sticker enforcement as necessary, but said he wants to wait until after the completion of the new sports complex, in order to see how traffic and parking patterns are affected.
O’Donnell said that the administration is open to an ongoing dialogue about parking needs in the city, and is prepared to address issues as they come up.
Council will be further discussing the issue at the upcoming meeting of the Legislative Affairs Committee. Council has also requested that the City provide specific parking statistics from each ward so that it may better assess the situation.