Residents of Lower Broadway and City leaders are sharing enthusiasm for a new 24-hour parking program that both feel will protect the neighborhood from unwanted parkers going to the Encore Boston Harbor casino when it opens next month.
Last week, the Traffic Commission approved a pilot 24-hour resident parking program for Lower Broadway – as well as other stipulations like authority to tow and an increase in the ticket from $25 to $50.
“This is a big worry residents have had lately, people coming to park for the casino,” said City Transportation Planner Jay Monty. “It’s a high price to park at the casino and there will be those patrons looking for alternative places to park and we’re trying to help Lower Broadway get some protections from this…They have been suffering for a while with the construction workers down there. Now is the time to crack down before the patrons come and overrun the place. The construction worker parking kind of made everyone realize this is necessary.”
Mayor Carlo DeMaria thanked the Traffic Commission and said he expects it to be solid protection for residents against scofflaw parkers.
“I want to thank the Traffic Commission for voting to initiate a pilot 24-hour residential parking program for the Lower Broadway area,” he said. “I fully expect this pilot to be successful and we will be monitoring other neighborhoods to determine if and where 24-hour residential parking programs are appropriate.”
Sgt. Joe Gaff has worked with Monty and Chief Steve Mazzie to design the program and try to make it workable.
Gaff said the program will start on June 1 with signs being installed, and residents can go to City Hall as early as this week to get the new, black-colored ‘Lower Broadway’ parking stickers.
Starting June 3 they will begin giving warnings for a few weeks.
However, starting on June 15 they will begin ticketing vehicles that do not have the sticker or the proper visitor passes. On June 21, they will begin towing and ticketing vehicles that don’t have the stickers.
“I think it’s a good plan and it helps address many of the concerns from residents that live there and their quality of life,” he said. “It’s going to come with some tools like a heftier fine for a ticket and the ability to tow cars. We want to educate the public now as much as we can prior to it becoming very busy down there.”
Gaff said there are a little over 300 cars registered in the Lower Broadway zone that will be eligible, and he also said residents with blue stickers from other parts of the City will not be able to park there. They, too, will get a ticket. However, he said they have reserved about 30, two-hour spaces on the street for all Everett parking stickers so residents can use those spots to grab dinner at the casino or use the HarborWalk.
Gaff said he sees that residents and businesses are excited about the program, and there is a lot of energy surrounding it.
One big thing we got at the meeting was the great excitement of Lower Broadway businesses and residents,” he said. “We were nervous with the tickets being higher, but they like that because it would definitely be a deterrent to keeping people from the casino off the streets in their neighborhood.”
For now, the City will allow one visitor pass per sticker, and the pass is good for 72 hours at a time. Gaff said as they refine the program, they may reduce the numbers of visitor passes if too many get released.
Councilor Michael McLaughlin – who called for such a program a few months ago in Lower Broadway and the Village section of Ward 6 – said he thought the program was a great first step, but he wants it expanded.
“I am very pleased and thankful to see that the Traffic Commission took my recommendation to implement a 24-hour residential parking sticker program for ward’s one and six and isolated it to just the area across the street immediately from Encore Boston Harbor,” he said. “Although I am pleased by this action, I believe strongly that we need to build off of that success and use that as a foundation to impact all streets in Wards 1 and 6. I hope on Thursday, May 30, the Administration will support and understand my concerns and work collaboratively to implement a program that will protect residents.”
He said there are about 4,200 existing residential parking stickers in Ward 6 right now, and about 3,750 in Ward 1 now.
Monty said they are interested in expanding the program but didn’t feel they could take on the whole city right now. In fact, he said they designed the program so that it could be portable to other “hot spots” in Everett.
“I think there’s still some anxiety out there from residents and city councilors who want to see us expand this program,” said Monty. “We’re not yet ready for the entire city…It’s really difficult to accommodate business owners and visitors. There no one sure fit parking policy. It’s hard to get it right and not make more problems than you solve. If issues arise in other areas, we can step in and design a program based on statistics.”
If issues arise, said Gaff, they have the flexibility in the program to make changes or to transport it to other areas that could become “hot spots” for people trying to avoid the $40 Encore parking garage.
A full parking and transportation plan will be presented to the City Council in a Committee of the Whole on May 28 at 6 p.m.