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Brookline ends $1.50 parking on game days

Beacon St. meters $22 for four hours

Brookline increased its game-day parking meter fee along the Beacon Street median near St. Mary’s T stop to $22 for four hours. Brookline increased its game-day parking meter fee along the Beacon Street median near St. Mary’s T stop to $22 for four hours. (Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff)
By Brock Parker
Globe Correspondent / April 8, 2011

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BROOKLINE — When Red Sox fans hunt for a parking spot along Beacon Street before today’s game, they will find dramatically increased parking rates that are meant to discourage them from clogging spots outside businesses near the St. Mary’s MBTA stop.

The town is hiking meter rates on game days to a four-hour total of $22 along the Beacon Street median near the stop. That is a sharp increase from the $1.50 fans could pay last year to safely park in the same spots for the duration of a game.

The rates will apply to about 50 meters along the Beacon Street median between St. Mary’s and Hawes streets Monday through Saturday. Motorists will pay $1 for each of the first two hours and $10 each for the third and fourth hours. Signs were placed on the new multispace parking meters this week to explain the rates.

The town expects to generate an additional $35,000 per year from the game-day rates. But the town’s planners have a broader plan: they would like to encourage Red Sox fans to park further west on Beacon Street, past Hawes Street and past Coolidge Corner, and take the Green Line trolley to the stadium.

For veterans of area parking wars, paying extra in Brookline is not all that astonishing.

“Brookline has always been the extra-cost town,’’ said Keith McCluskey, a 39-year-old Somerville resident who parked on Beacon Street in Brookline to visit a restaurant earlier this week. “It doesn’t surprise me.’’

The area is less than a mile from Fenway Park, which is closer to the stadium than the official Red Sox parking garage at 100 Clarendon St. Red Sox fans with a ticket can pay as little as $9 to park at the Clarendon garage, but lots and garages closer to Fenway Park charge $25 to $50, according to the team’s website.

Hiking the meter rates has been supported by some businesses, such as Beacon Street Tavern, that have said regular customers will not visit their restaurants on game days because there is nowhere to park.

Brookline resident Greg Roux, 21, who works in a real estate office near the St. Mary’s T stop, said finding a parking spot on game days is nearly “impossible.’’

“I guess it’s not good for the Red Sox fans,’’ Roux said of the meter rate hike.

But not all businesses on the block are sold on the increase.

Chris Christakis, owner of Busy Bee Restaurant on Beacon St., said he thinks the hike will make business worse because no one will want to park in the area.

Red Sox fans take up all of the parking spots on game days, Christakis said, but some also eat at the restaurant.

“Now, with the parking, they’ll just take the T and go straight down to the game,’’ Christakis said.

Curbside parking along the stretch of Beacon Street near St. Mary’s Street will be $1 per hour on game days, but Brookline Transportation Director Todd Kirrane said a two-hour limit on those spots will be strictly enforced.

Boston Transportation Commissioner Thomas Tinlin said Boston will watch to see if premium parking rates in Brookline push more cars into the city.

But Tinlin said the city has no plans to hike its own meter rates around Fenway Park.

“Our Fenway area abuts the Longwood Medical Area and the Museum of Fine Arts, so there are other things in that area that draw people, not just the Red Sox,’’ Tinlin said. “We’re just not ready to say, ‘OK, let’s start charging people $22 to park,’ and in fact they aren’t going to a Red Sox game.’’

During the games, Boston also increases enforcement around the park, in the Fenway neighborhood, and along Boylston Street and Commonwealth Avenue where fans often park, Tinlin said. The city tickets and tows depending on the parking violation, he said.

Kirrane said Brookline has modeled its game-day parking rates after the District of Columbia’s rates around the Washington Nationals baseball stadium.

Brookline police Captain Michael Gropman said that in addition to searching for spots on Beacon Street and Longwood Avenue, Sox fans park on neighborhood streets. Police staff two additional enforcement officers to ticket for parking violations on game days.

The town collects $25 fines for meter violations in the area, and it may look into increasing the fines, too.

“We use the carrot, and the next step would be to use the stick,’’ Kirrane said.

Brock Parker can be reached at brock.globe@gmail.com.