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Magoun wary of parking problems

Posted by Marcia Dick  April 12, 2010 10:04 AM

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As $3 million of long-awaited traffic and sidewalk construction begins in Magoun Square - to last at least six months - the square's residents are making some noise of their own. Ward alderman Sean O'Donovan introduced six strongly worded items regarding the square's business health at the April 8 Board of Aldermen meeting, particularly the impact of current parking restrictions plus construction.

Long term, the rehab and Green Line will bring opportunities to the square; but for the rest of 2010, it could be tricky, said mayoral aide Matthew Dias. Dias said the city would try to "mitigate negative impacts" by using lessons from other reconstruction projects. Union Square businesses complained vociferously about temporary loss of parking spaces and thus clientele when Somerville Avenue went under the figurative knife.

In addition, O'Donovan wants the administration to "stop combining Davis and Magoun squares when considering traffic and parking changes," particularly the planned extension of parking meters to 10 p.m. in the two districts.

More info on that front is soon to come: this week the city is announcing a "demand-based parking" transportation study with consultants Nelson\Nygaard in Magoun, Davis, and Union squares. Observers will count "the number of spaces, how often they're filled, what times," Dias said, with an eye to setting differential rules and fees. Putting a non-fiscal spin on things, Dias said "it's about maximizing parking for as many users as possible throughout the day." (The many critics of the new parking rules might suspect the city is also selling a bridge over New York's East River.)

"I am concerned with the business loss that the insult of construction with the added injury of a parking ticket could have on the current business owners," local activist Courtney O'Keefe said in a statement. "I love the idea of brick paver crosswalks, but they mean nothing if visitors are not walking on them."

As for the contention that quiet Magoun lacks the nightlife appeal of "super-square" Davis, "I beg to differ!" said Dias, who lives in Magoun. "But maybe I'm a boring guy." Personality traits aside, he said that there was enough evening demand for 8 p.m. meters to make sense in the first place.

Get updates at somervillema.gov.

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