May 17, 2023
A discussion about changes to parking enforcement, including the possible installation of meters in the Fields Corner business district and permit parking for residents, drew mixed reviews at a meeting of the Fields Corner Civic Association (FCCA) last Tuesday (May 2).
The in-person session, the first open forum on the traffic situation with residents and business owners, was held at Bay Cove/Kit Clark Center and attracted about 25 neighbors. The topic was the recent request of the city by Fields Corner Main Streets to help businesses struggling with commuter parking and lack of enforcement against overstays in the existing two-hour parking zones.
The civic’s leaders stressed that nothing has been decided, that the conversation was a first step in gauging support for a traffic study.
FCCA President Jim Doyle told the attendees that Fields Corner Main Streets, FCCA officers, and other stakeholders had met with Matthew Warfield, who works for City Hall’s “Streets Cabinet,” earlier that day to talk over the situation and maybe set up a formal study of the issues.
“The idea is to look at how to alleviate some of the parking that happens with people coming to our train station and leaving their cars in front of businesses all day, eight or nine hours,” he said. “They suggested things like 15-minute parking, two-hour parking signs, even parking meters. If that happens, it would result in the parking being pushed into the neighborhoods. There are problems on both ends of this situation. There are people already with commuters parking in front of their houses all day. That would probably mean it would become resident permit parking.”
Commuter parking for the Red Line station is not a new problem, but one that has grown after the pandemic within an increasingly thriving business district.
“Civics and residents collectively put themselves in a position to support the businesses, but not at the expense of residents,” said Hiep Chu, FCCA’s treasurer. “Clearly traffic and parking was very different 10 years ago. There are more people. Hopefully, we can get some system in place to cater to more people and not just more people, more cars, and more traffic…It’s all up to us. What do we want the city to do?”
Chu, who was at the earlier meeting with the city, said they suggested that a study would kick things off and would include everything within a quarter-mile radius of Fields Corner. After the study, there would be immediate actions suggested, such as more signage and more enforcement. Were they to introduce meters, it would be later, and they could be removed if there was great discontent. Any such action, if ever taken, would be a short-term test.
But, he added, the city “clearly indicated that meter parking is a lot easier to enforce” than two-hour postings. Nothing would happen, he stressed, unless the community and businesses decide they would like to start with the traffic study.
As to the attendees, Faulkner Street resident Fred Zayas said he has been fighting for years to get the city to do something about commuter parking and tractor-trailers coming down his street.
“We have tractor-trailers going down there at 6:30 a.m. and city sweepers going there, too,” he said. “The parking issue is haywire…Businesses have a need and I understand that. I believe that residential parking and enhanced signage on Dorchester Avenue will help both parties.”
Junior Pena, a resident who owns multiple businesses in Fields Corner, said he and other business owners brought the issue to the city because their livelihood is being threatened.
“The businesses are not proposing meter parking,” he said. “The businesses have been complaining about the non-enforcement situation…This is not a new problem, but we’re more vocal about it. We hear all the time about parking and customers get $90 parking tickets. That customer will not come back because a $30 meal became a $120 meal.”
Pena said there needs to be a change to the existing free-for-all. “At the end of the day, if we do nothing, we suffer in silence,” he said. “The city is open to identifying what possible solutions could be offered in different areas.”
FCCA Secretary Tran Le said if anything is done, they should look at a wider area.
“People advocate for what they are immediately impacted by, but we need a comprehensive study because if you do something in one area, it will then affect another area,” she said.
The FCCA and neighbors agreed to continue the discussion, and perhaps have city officials come back to discuss the resident parking program in more detail. Doyle said the length of a study and implementation could be two years.
FIELDS CORNER NOTEBOOK
•C-11 officers reported that at 8 p.m. on April 14, an argument among four people in the parking lot of the Fields Corner Mall between McDonalds and Mad Rag clothing store resulted in one man running off and three men fired guns at the man as he ran toward Park Street. Officers found 13 shell casings near the scene. No one was hit by bullets, and no arrests were made.
In a second instance, officers were directed to a construction site at 1463 Dorchester Ave. early in the morning of April 15 to check on reports of a burglar inside with a flashlight. On arrival, the officers found the man pushing a large generator off the site. When confronted, a man identified as Mack Graham, 56, of Dorchester, said he needed to sell it to buy crack cocaine. He was charged with several felonies.
•Several residents noted that the MBTA Red Line bridge that runs over Dorchester Avenue is in alarmingly poor condition, with concrete falling off and cracks in the structure in every direction. One neighbor said workers had temporarily shored up the steel beams last year, but the consensus of the group was that its condition now is a “huge red flag.”
•There will be a Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) online meeting on Thurs., May 18, to begin the review of the proposed 41-unit development at 1420 Dorchester Ave., the site of the former 7/11 store (now Richdale Food Shops).
•The Boston Little Saigon Night Market (Cho Dem) will take place on July 15 in Fields Corner with Dorchester Avenue shut down between Park and Adams streets. Streets will begin closing at noon that day. Organizers are looking for volunteers from the community to assist with the event.