Selectboard logo, May 20, 2019

A pilot program designed to reduce transportation issues and increase safety during Dallin Elementary School’s arrivals and dismissals was unanimously approved by the Select Board at its Jan. 24 meeting. The pilot program, previously approved by Arlington’s Transportation Advisory Committee, is scheduled to begin on Monday, Feb. 28.

“School arrivals and dismissals challenge the transportation network. Approximately 800 to 1,000 people all converge on the school in the same 5 to 10 minutes,' said Laura Swan, School Committee liaison to the Transportation Advisory Committee and current chair.

“Most other Arlington schools use infrastructure — such as one-way streets, time-restricted access, curb-side drop-offs, managing traffic arrival and dismissal times — but Dallin doesn’t have these. That’s why we came up with a pilot program,” Dallin Elementary School Principal Thad Dingman said.  “We’ve heard consistently from the community that our walkers’ arrival and dismissal procedures are unsafe. Our school has experienced increased enrollment and Florence Ave is popular for both drop-off and commuting in the morning and afternoon. Over the past 2 years, we’ve seen an increase in incidental traffic accidents but, fortunately, they were only close calls.” 

A memo from the Dallin Elementary School to the Select Board recommends restricting the use of Florence Ave between Renfrew and George streets and Florence Avenue to school buses and abutters for one block during school arrival and dismissal times. 

See the agenda document >> 

“At midway points during our pilot program, we’ll get back to the community to obtain feedback and make sure the plan is positive. We hope to continue this plan for the remainder of the school year, with hopes of starting the next school year with a new program for arrivals and dismissals,” said Dingman.

Select board member John Hurd said, “This is a long time coming, because traffic patterns at drop-off and pick-up have been difficult to navigate. It’s exciting to see a program that will streamline the drop-off and pick-up of kids. We’ve got a long way to make drop-offs and pick-ups much safer, and this will make big strides toward putting us in the right direction.” 

East Arlington overnight parking 

The board unanimously agreed to receive a request for an East Arlington overnight parking pilot program and to add this to a future agenda for a full-board discussion.

See the document for this agenda item >>

The town restricts overnight parking on public ways between 1 and 7 a.m .

East Arlington resident Amy Lyster said, “East Arlington is unlike the rest of the town. It’s densely settled and an urban contingent.

“Despite increased housing, the number of parking options has not increased. With few places to rent a spot, this affects residents’ quality of life. The town overflow option exists, but we’re not close to it, and requires you to move your car early in the morning, so it’s not viable during the winter. 

“I don’t know of any overriding reason to continue this prohibition, and the restriction times seem arbitrary. Cars are there until midnight picking up food, and again in the morning, so cars are parked on the street 18 hours a day. 

“Other local communities, such as Somerville, don’t have these restrictions. Residents here can get only 2 weeks of parking waivers, so it doesn’t address the issue. It’s time we think of some solutions for this part of town.

“This pilot program will create a resident parking program in east Arlington. Anyone in town can register to get an overnight parking permit by paying a nominal fee, and we’ll waive the fees for those over 65 or who have a disability plate. This will be for side streets only; it doesn’t include Mass Ave. We’re also open to parking on just one side of the street if that’s a concern,” said Lyster.

Silvia Dominguez, also of East Arlington and a Precinct 4 Town Meeting member, said: “This is not a permit for just overnight parking. We’re a parking lot for Alewife and an economic issue for homeowners who cannot rent to people with cars.

“The streets are full of commuters’ cars, not residents’. The streets for should be for us first, then for other people. We need to create the flexibility that these households need, especially those with more than two or three people.”

Board member Eric Helmuth said, “We need to listen to people in this neighborhood about this issue. This has been an issue that’s hard to solve.”

Member Diane Mahon said, “We need to focus on the overnight parking ban.”

Board Chair Steve DeCourcey said, “A pilot program should be done on a precinctwide or townwide basis.” 

Board member John Hurd said, “We’re on the right track with a pilot program. If it’s a townwide ballot, and we have an east Arlington-only program, people in other neighborhoods will also want this. It makes sense to expand this pilot program to all of Arlington.”

In 2013, residents voted in a townwide nonbinding ballot to keep overnight parking restrictions, by a percentage of 64 to 36. 

Watch the whole Jan. 24 meeting on ACMi:


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This news summary, by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert, was published Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022.