No more Town Night? Let's think about it

Fire Department Chief Robert Jefferson is confident that Arlington is "ready for any emergency disaster that may come along, because we train every day to be ready."Board of Selectmen logo, Jan. 23, 2013

Addressing the selectmen Monday, Oct. 30, Jefferson said the town is prepared to respond on a daily basis to all emergencies and incidents, both man-made and natural disasters.

"Whether it's a fire, police incident, storm, gas leak or health emergency, the appropriate town departments can respond and mitigate those incidents," Jefferson said.

Larger and/or long-duration incidents active the town's Emergency Management Team. He said Arlington is fortunate to have available both internal resources -- Fire Department, Police Department, Department of Public Works, Board of Health, etc. -- and external resources (including regional task forces, mutual-aid agreements, state and federal response teams). Agreements and training are in place to request and deploy resources as needed, Jefferson added.

In addition, "Arlington's Local Emergency Planning committee meets several times a year to make sure we know everyone, and all know what’s going on," said Jefferson.

Lots of resources available

Furthermore, four years ago, Arlington joined the Mystic Regional Emergency Planning Committee, a combination of 22 cities and towns. Because it's a group of communities, more assets are available if needed, and towns have more power when applying for federal grants.

The Fire Department actively tries to notify residents on how to be prepared for unexpected disasters. "We give the public the necessary information, using both alerts and website postings," said Jefferson. Read the chief's memo here >> 

Selectman Diane Mahon said, "When it comes to emergency management, the penultimate person we have to oversee that is Chief Jefferson. I've watched him in action, and he does everything he can to get utility companies to come out and restore service."

Selectman Dan Dunn concurred: "Arlington is prepared."

The day after the fire chief spoke, a man who police say is linked to ISIS terrorism drove a rented truck that killed eight people and injured 12 on a bike path in Manhattan. Local officials are not expecting such an event here, but the event, with international repercussions, illustrates the world of which we are a part.

Town Night alternatives considered

Arlington may recommend eliminating Town Night, said Selectman Kevin Greeley, the board's liaison to the Town Day Committee. "It used to be just fireworks, but now it's more like a carnival. Town Night has grown so much, and we can't have enough police."

Town Day has been a tradition since the U.S. bicentennial year of 1976.

Town Administrator Marie Krepelka added, "Police and fire expenses are going up, but we have to have them."

One option would be to still have the fireworks, and nothing else.

Selectmen unanimously agreed to accept what the Town Day Committee decides. "If the committee has solid recommendations, I can't see why the board wouldn't approve them," said Selectmen Chairman Joseph Curro Jr.

Greeley added, "If a private organization wants to take over Town Night, we'll go with it." Donors are spread thin these days, giving less and less each year. Moreover, money raised on Town Night goes to the Boys & Girls Club, not the town.

Bike-share program evaluating dockless bikes

Selectmen unanimously agreed to continue exploring the option of dockless bikes. The board authorized both the Arlington Bike Share Working group and the Town Manager to sign the Mass. Area Planning Council's request for proposals, to determine whether Arlington should commit to joining the council's regional process for dockless bike share.

Locally, 16 communities currently provide dockless bikes.

Arlington has recently been approached by several dockless bike-share vendors looking to begin operating here. Unlike Hubway bikes, dockless bikes do not require a separate fixed apparatus on which to lock, and thus locking/docking locations are not needed.

Dunn, a cyclist, said, "I like that we're looking into this option, and not binding ourselves to anything. I hope that whatever solution we come to includes Hubway but, at the same time, I think Hubway needs a little more competition."

Read the memo from town planning >> 

Alton Street loading-zone options under review

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine will see whether Alton Street's loading-zone delivery time -- now 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday -- can be modified to a more restricted time, such as 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The manager will ask local business owners for input on when they take deliveries before the board decides to adjust the number of hours available for the loading zone.

"One of Arlington Center's biggest parking challenges is the need for a loading zone when trucks make deliveries," Chapdelaine said.

At issue is Alton Street, where several companies, such as American Alarm, are negatively affected by illegally parked delivery vehicles. Trucks are sometimes parked in the wrong direction or on the sidewalk, taking up lots of residential street parking, thus causing significant heartache for residents.

Too many vehicles, too few spaces

According to the 28 complaints logged between Aug. 10 and Sept. 11, loading-zone trucks park in an area designated "no parking." These delivery trucks block businesses and their views, and eliminate customer convenience. Moreover, the two designated parking spaces (one regular, one handicapped) were moved farther away from the local small businesses, resulting in revenue loss.

Dunn said, "We see the tension and friction due to a lack of parking spaces, especially when there is adjacent residential and commercial property. It's a recurring theme for us with businesses and residents in close proximity."

Chapdelaine added: "We're trying to solve problems, not cause problems, and need to balance the needs of both commercial and residential properties."

The board agreed to further discuss the loading-zone hours, but keep the location of the parking spaces.

Selectman Steven Byrne, of the parking subcommittee, said the decision to move the parking spaces was "business friendly, and there's still plenty of handicapped parking in the center."

Residents express opinions

Michelle Famolare Casey, whose family owns property on Alton Street, opposes the loading zone: "We have several small business in this area, and I'm concerned for parents having to drop off their kids."

Alton Street houses both a dance and karate studio, with peak traffic from 3 to 5 p.m.

"Plus, both my parents are disabled, and use the handicap space, so I'm concerned that they have to walk much further," Casey added.

Another local resident, Michael Ruderman, says he is "concerned about the noise and disruption living next to a loading zone where delivery trucks run their motors for extended periods of time, as well as the safety of pedestrians who cross the street."

Appointment

Selectmen unanimously approved John Donato as an associate member of the town's Park & Recreation Commission. Donato, a lifelong Arlington resident and Town Meeting member, with a background in sports coaching, says he "looks forward to working for Arlington in a different manner."

Special permissions

Selectmen unanimously approved the following:

-- Arlington Public Youth art banners to be displayed in the town center along Mass. Ave., March through May 2018.  Arlington youth, ages 13 to 18, will create artwork with the theme "Water!" that will be digitized and printed into banners. The program is now in its third year, and a call for submissions has already gone out, said Martina Tanga of Arlington Public Art, a citizen arts initiative sponsored by Vision 2020 and the Town of Arlington. Tanga says she "looks forward to many submissions this year."

-- Two sandwich boards for January 2018's Sarcoma Foundation of America's "ACATpella Festival to Belt Out Cancer." The boards will be displayed next January at Mass. Ave. and Pleasant Street. and at the Mystic Street island.

-- One-day beer-and-wine license for the seventh annual "Out on the Town Gala" to support the Arlington Youth Counseling Center, Robbins Memorial Town Hall, Nov. 3.

-- One-day beer-and-wine license for a private event, Robbins Memorial Town Hall, Nov. 4.

-- Contractor/drainlayer license request for Ferrante Construction LLC, Bedford, MA. 


This news summary, by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert, was published Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017.