Angier School will reopen in January on Beacon Street in Waban, returning the students from their sojourn in the Carr School across town. The sparkling new edifice will house expanded programming, offering the students and teachers more flexibility as well as more space. But the land on which Angier sits could not expand to accommodate parking for every teacher and staff member. There are 64 staff-only spaces for roughly 90 people who will work at Angier. Despite a T stop nearby, a number of teachers travel from more affordable homes in distant towns beyond the reach of local transportation.
As the construction deadline of late December has approached, the number of contractors at the Angier site has ballooned. Some of these contractors have been parking on nearby streets, joining the savvy commuters who have found free parking along Beacon, Dorset, Manitoba, Collins, Southwick and other Waban roads.
The contractors will soon leave. The commuters will continue to invade Waban streets from towns further away. (I have learned that most of these commuters are not Newton residents.) The parents and school buses will soon arrive. If left without a parking plan, there would be continued and growing discomfort in local neighborhoods as residents, parents and teachers compete for safe streets with clear turning vistas and reliable, predictable, parking accommodations.
And so a Waban Parking Plan was born last night at Traffic Council. Started. In its infancy. Not carved in stone. (Only a few street signs will be ordered.) As the pressure to find free parking moves further away from the Waban MBTA stop, there will be more streets added to the list to be included in the Plan. The streets will fall like dominoes until, at last, the commuters are either getting their exercise by walking from distant streets, or finding the lots designed for their daily vehicle storage: the Woodland and Riverside parking lots.
What is the beginning of this plan as it was offered and approved by the Traffic Council last night? There will be a zone designated “Two-hour parking from 9am-5pm Monday through Friday” along both sides of Beacon Street from Winnetaska east to Manitoba. For safety reasons, no parking and no standing (no parent drop-off) will be allowed on the south side of Beacon from Irvington to the MBTA bridge. Dorset Road will also have similar restrictions from Beacon Street to Locke Road on the west and southern sides and “No parking from 9am-5pm Monday through Friday” on the east and northern sides of the street. Residents may purchase permits for a current $25 yearly fee/car for up to 2 cars to override the parking restriction. The school would also have permits available for staff members.
Aldermen Rice and Crossley have pledged to add the next set of streets as a Docket item for Traffic Council to consider at the next scheduled Traffic Council meeting in January. Locke, Southwick, Manitoba, and parts of Collins and Waban Avenue will surely be among the next batch of streets to be considered! Certainly, we can expect that more streets east of Woodward will fall victim to overflow parking after the Plan’s initial implementation. Not only from MBTA commuters, but, if apartments are built, as is being suggested by developers, on Windsor Road at Beacon and at Chestnut at Beacon, those streets will also be affected and require inclusion to resolve inevitable parking issues.
This whole parking plan process opens the door to neighborhood and city-wide transportation discussions. Would neighbors near Angier or Zervas or Cabot be willing to “Adopt a Teacher,” allowing a specific teacher to park in their driveway on school days from 7am-4pm? Can we add any bicycle lanes and storage at minimal cost? Can we take a broader look at Beacon Street, as a major east-west artery, one of only six Newton streets that cut across the heart of Newton (including Watertown St., Washington St., Commonwealth Avenue, Route 9 and Needham/Dedham Street), and fund a renovation that would elevate its appeal and function to the level of its nearest northern parallel counterpart, Commonwealth Avenue? The Waban Area Council will be addressing this Parking Plan over the next several months with our residents and neighbors and I invite your thoughts about the possibilities for our City as we consider our options in Waban.