Selectboard logo, May 20, 2019

With public schools set to open Sept. 6, six traffic signs, indicating parking areas and pickup and drop-off locations, are being installed at Arlington High School, as unanimously approved by the Select Board on Aug. 22.

Two signs are designated as “No Parking/Fire Lane,” two signs as “Pickup/Drop-off Only” and two as “Pickup/Drop-off Only Weekdays 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.”

After those times, parking regulations revert to the standard parking available for that block on Mass. Ave., said Deputy Town Manager James Feeney. 

This allows for several parking spots to be located directly adjacent to Arlington High School’s new front entrance, with student pickup and drop-off only during weekday school hours, as requested by Feeney.

For a map of the sign locations, see this agenda document >> 

Dallin School’s safe-arrival/dismissal program continues

The board unanimously approved new permanent signs at Dallin Elementary School, restricting parking from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m. every school day and 2:15 to 2:45 p.m. every school day except Wednesday, when it will be 12:45 to 1:15 p.m. In addition, the Florence Avenue drop-off zone is extended to Wachusett Street. 

After a three-month (March to June) pilot program seeking to improve the safety of the students during arrival and dismissal times, “the feedback that we received from Dallin community members and abutters indicate that the program was a success, and I would like to explore this more fully for the new school year,” said school Principal Thad Dingman. 

For more complete information, click here >>

Additionally, the DPW plans to repaint the intersection parking areas around the school, to make them clearer to drivers, and add a parallel crosswalk on the other side of Renfrew Street, so that students can safely cross Florence Avenue. “They’ll cross where we have barriers and someone directing traffic,” added Dingman.

Board member John Hurd said, “What we’ve done has been a wild success from safety and ease standpoints, and I’m happy to continue support of this program. It has done wonders for egregious illegal parking in that area. I appreciate all the work on this, and look forward to its continuation.”

Board Chair Len Diggins said, “I was impressed by the increase in kids walking to school, improving their health and the environment. People are voting with their feet, literally.”

Overnight/permit parking pilot discussed

The board continued its discussion of Arlington’s overnight/permit parking pilot. No vote was taken.

“After our last meeting, I talked to TAC [Transportation Advisory Committee] to see how they’re doing with their pilot program. The deployment is delayed, and they’re going forward slowly, to try and mitigate anything that comes up,” Diggins said.

He recommended less-restrictive overnight parking. “In order to grant some people relief and make it more permissive, I want to explore how we can enforce our current overnight parking. We currently ticket cars parked overnight only if someone reports it, and I want to enforce it generally. Once we get approval, perhaps we can go to the Arlington Police Department and Department of Public Works to see how to do this.”

Diggins also suggested allowing overnight parking with a permit. “By enforcing our current parking ban, we can see what kind of demand we get for permits. However, I’m concerned that we’ll increase on-street parking, and encourage people to get cars, instead of using public transit.”

Ballot question?

Board member Diane Mahon suggested posing overnight/permit parking as a ballot question and then request the results precinct by precinct. A public vote was held in 2013, and voters supported keeping the overnight ban, 64 to 36 percent. 

“A townwide vote isn’t representative of what we have in East Arlington,” she said. “I’d like to continue our conversation with the APD and others. Let’s do it in a finite area, for a finite amount of time. There’d be no cost to the town or the taxpayers.”

Hurd also liked having a ballot question, yet not make any promises on how the board will interpret the results, but just get a temperature of the town in allowing certain areas and not others. “I like the idea of relaxing the overnight permits, instead of blanket allowing anyone to park overnight on the street. It’s worthwhile to come up with an initial pilot to give us the information we need.”

“We should proceed carefully,” advised board member Eric Helmuth. "The status quo isn’t working, placing unnecessary restrictions on people who don’t have the luxury of taking public transit.

“A permit program is complicated. One of hardest things is to determine the demand, and cost, of permits. It’s difficult for the public, without a very robust outreach-education program, to understand the complexity and nuance of what we might consider.”

Board member Steve DeCourcey also suggested leaning toward a permit program, especially for a finite period. “We’ve looked at other communities, and with the continued support of this board, we’ll continue to refine our thinking and bring back something to the board.”

Traffic correspondence sent to TAC

The board also received five letters from town residents expressing traffic concerns. All correspondence is being referred to TAC. 

Watch the entire meeting on ACMi:

 

January 2020 to present: Ongoing update to construction of Arlington High School
 

 This news summary, by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert, was published Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022.

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