North Pleasant Street Parking Plan Will Have More Spaces For Kendrick Park Users

Roads around Kendrick Park. Photo: Google Maps

Report On The Meeting Of The Town Services And Outreach Committee, May 5, 2022

Present
Dorothy Pam (Chair, District 3), Anika Lopes (District 4), Ana Devlin Gauthier (District 5), Shalini Bahl-Milne (District 5), Andy Steinberg (at large).

Staff: Paul Bockelman (Town Manager), Jennifer LaFountain (Town Treasurer/Collector), Guilford Mooring (Superintendent of Public Works), Amy Ruseicki (Assistant Superintendent of Public Works), Athena O’Keefe (Clerk of Council)

Public Hearing On Proposed Parking Relations on North Pleasant Street
A public hearing was held about  establishing new parking regulations for the spaces along North Pleasant Street between McLellan Street and Triangle Street.

In a memo submitted shortly before the TSO meeting, Town Manager Paul Bockelman altered the original proposal to what follows below.  Following the public hearing, TSO adopted an alternate plan reducing the number of spaces for residential permits and increasing the number of metered spaces.  

Bockelman’s Original Proposal
1 space for handicapped parking that can accomodate a van

2 additional spaces for handicapped parking

7 back-in parking spaces that are metered from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m with a four-hour limit

20 back-in parking spaces that require a residential parking permit from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

3 parallel parking spaces that are metered from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m with a four-hour limit
Metering will be done with a kiosk system rather than individual meters.

Right now this segment of North Pleasant Street has 22 permit spaces and 7 metered spaces. The only significant change in Bockelman’s proposal is that there would now be three handicapped spaces.

North Pleasant Street traffic and parking plan proposed at the public hearing on May 5, 2022. Photo: amherstma.gov

Bockelman and Guilford Mooring reported that there is no room in the roads budget to undertake these changes this year.

Following testimony from the public and discussion among the councilors, VOTED unanimously, 5-0 to recommend to the Town Council that interim steps be taken as soon as possible, including implementing one-way northbound traffic from McClellan Street to Triangle Street, and moving parking spaces to the east side of North Pleasant, and that twenty spaces near the park be metered parking with a 2-hour limit from 8 am to 6 pm at a rate of 50 cents/hour, with three of those spaces designated handicapped; and to recommend that the North Pleasant on street parking plan be implemented as follows:

  • one space for handicapped parking and designed for van use
  • two other parking spaces for handicapped parking
  • seven back-in parking spaces for permit parking enforced from 8 :00 a.m. to 5:00  p.m.
  • three parallel parking spaces for permit parking enforced from 8:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m.
  • 20 back-in parking spaces for metered parking at 50 cents/hour with a four-hour limit enforced from 8:00 a.m – 6:00 p.m.


Parking for residential permits will be on the north side of the park, leaving the metered spaces closer to the playground.

Testimony

Four Amherst residents offered testimony. All expressed concern about whether the original proposal provided sufficient parking for users of Kendrick Park, noting that the park is heavily used at all times during the day.

Ken Rosenthal, of Sunset Avenue, commended the town on the Kendrick Park playground. He noted that he visits it frequently with his grandchildren but has to park illegally because there are not enough public parking spaces, so park users have to park in spaces reserved for permit holders. He said the park needs more spaces for casual users and suggested that it could be provided by reducing the number of permit parking spaces. He said, “This park attracts families with small children, and we need to make it easier for them to park there — legally and safely — so that they can use the wonderful facility.”

Dorothy Pam asked him how much time a typical visitor to the park, like him, with two small children needs on the meter.  Rosenthal thought that two hours are sufficient.


Rosenthal also worried about the safety of back-in parking, especially where there is a fair amount of moving traffic. He said he is not as concerned about it at Kendrick Park  as on Main Street near the North Common and  other corners where a driver who is backing into a parking spot might not be seen by someone coming turning the corner.

Kimberly Tremlay (Cosby Avenue) testified that she is an avid cyclist who rides past Kendrick Park every day on her way to UMass. She commended the conversion of North Pleasant Street there to one way as an improvement in safety, but concurred with Rosenthal that there is insufficient parking for users of the park, especially when UMass is in session, and agreed with his suggestion to decrease the number of spaces reserved for cars with permits.


Speaking as an individual resident rather than as the chair of the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), Tracy Zafian noted that TAC has not taken a position on the parking plan. She suggested that turnover for parking space at the park is a good thing,  particularly during times of high use, and that  a two- hour limit might be preferable to the four-hour limit common throughout town.  She noted that no improvements are planned for this year but  cut-thru use there continues to be heavy. She said thatsafety around the park should be improved, and asked if some of planned traffic-calming work could be started this year.

Councilor Jennifer Taub, who lives on Lincoln Avenue and represents District 3, spoke  as an individual resident. She noted that Kendrick Park is heavily used and that it draws people into the downtown area from throughout town , and that’s a good thing. She concurred with the other speakers that we need more spaces for park users.

The hearing began at 6:38 and ended at 6:54. 


Councilor Questions And Comments

Most questions and comments from councilors were in response to the request for more metered parking near the park. All of the councilors present agreed that additional metered parking should be prioritized and asked about the best way to accomplish this.

Shalini Bahl-Milne asked for clarification on exactly who is using the permitted spaces. She also asked for clarification on the role of the TAC on this and said that they were told not to weigh on this. 

Town Treasurer Jennifer La Fountain responded that most permits are for anyone who lives or works in the downtown area, and that much of the permit use there is by residents of the mixed-use building at 1 East Pleasant Street.

Andy Steinberg called attention to comments made in the hearing which said that the most important thing we can do with these new rules is to ensure that people who are coming from elsewhere in town to use the park will be able to find a parking space. To do this, we would benefit from knowing the numbers and the typical timing of use as well as the kind of turnover there. He wondered whether  there’s a study that could give us that data in order to make an accurate estimate of where and when there is a need for visitor parking.

LaFountain advised that the kiosk metering system will make it easier to collect data about usage.

Anilka Lopes asked for more information about the pros and cons of back-in parking. Mooring suggested that back-in parking is especially suitable for Kendrick Park because it is a low traffic volume street and when you open the door of your car you are somewhat protected from the street and directed toward the sidewalk. (Zafian also made this point.) He noted that Amherst is having a hard time adjusting to back-in parking but he thinks it  would be a much safer option next to Kendrick Park. He also said that back-in parking is safer for cyclists because motorists  who pull out into the street have a clear view of cyclists. He agreed that the park is heavily used, noting that people use it at  all times of the day and into the night , regardless of the weather. “People coming out of Garcia’s after dinner cross the street to use the park. This is to say that users are inclined to stay late,” he said.


Sewer Rates
TSO briefly continued its discussion of planned changes to the town sewer regulations that might involve the town assuming “ownership” of sewer and water lines up to the property line. Currently, property owners are responsible for sewer and water line repairs from the main to their houses (see here for previous reporting).. Bockelman briefly reported on a company that will provide residents with insurance against water and sewer repairs. The discussion will continue at the next TSO meeting. Ana Devlin Gauthier is taking the lead on the discussion of water and sewer rates, in line with the committee’s plan of all members sharing in the leadership



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2 thoughts on “North Pleasant Street Parking Plan Will Have More Spaces For Kendrick Park Users

  1. Did anyone remember the on-street counterflow bike lane southbound?

    The May 5th plan still shows a mix of pedestrians and southbound cyclists there – that’s a “non-solution” – and arguably “an accident waiting to happen”!

    And if something were done to make the street one-way north to motor vehicles on an interim basis, then southbound cyclists may easily “overlook” any new one-way signs there without the accommodation of a marked on-street counterflow bike lane.

    What sort of message about environmentally friendly transportation is Amherst sending?

  2. May be some lessons learned?
    Parking to be supplied with new buildings? planned Sharing w/buildings? More pocket parks so folks from Sunset don’t drive to Kendrick (one in every village center instead ofa round-a-bout)? More shade, less blaring sun? more seating for the older people, bikes and walking friendly, plazas for gathering? children and (separate) youth oriented space?
    Many in the opposite direction of current and past decisions…

    Chad Fuller

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