Straphangers using Belmont Center to catch buses or the commuter rail to work will soon lose most of their free parking options as the Belmont Board of Selectmen approved a plan Monday, Sept. 29 requiring commuters to purchase of a monthly pass to park along streets and town lots near the transportation hub.
The recommendations from a committee of the Financial Task Force is predicting the commuter pass along with an increase in the fees at the three municipal parking lots will generate an additional $40,000 a year for the town, according to Floyd Carman, the town’s treasurer who is a member of the Task Force’s Other Revenue Committee.
The selectmen decided to defer from expanding the commuter plan to the “turn around” road across from Cottage Street and the Underwood Pool that is used for parking for residents and visitors attending events or using the school playing fields or the ‘Skip’ Viglirolo Skating Rink.
The new parking regulations will go into effect on Jan. 1.
Residents and out-of-towners who use the three town-owned lots in Belmont Center (on Claflin Street), Cushing Square and Waverley Square will be paying 40 cents more an hour and $2 a day to park, which will cover the costs to maintain the lots and operate the parking program, said Carman.
The parking fees will become $1 per hour and $5 for an all day ticket on Jan. 1. Parking passes will jump from $60 to $90.
The big change will be the new commuter parking plan, an idea proposed in the past but never implemented, said Carman. Currently, about 65 percent of the vehicles parked adjacent the Belmont commuter rail station are from out-of-town, said Carman.
“Sometimes, it’s 100 percent. There are no places for residents to park,” he told selectmen.
Under the recommendations, ten spaces in the three municipal lots as well as 13 spaces along Royal Road in front of the Belmont Lions Club will be reserved for commuters who purchase passes for $90 a month. The pass will allow commuters to use the spaces from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The ten commuter spots in the Belmont Center lot will be located near the former Macy’s location as its unlikely the site will be leased “until next year,” said Carman.
“So for the short term we can develop a revenue stream,” said Carman.
He also said there is some risk to the plan as the Belmont Center lot is used by the town’s Farmers Market five months during the summer and fall while the Lions Club sells Christmas trees in December.
Carman told Selectmen that businesses whose employees have been using lots and the street could begin a shuttle service from other locations.
The approved recommendations come as the November Town Meeting will discuss approving the $2.6 million reconstruction of Belmont Center’s roads that will include the introduction of a parking plan that calls for meters along Leonard Street. Selectman Sami Baghdady said he wanted to promote the commuter lot in a way “to encourage turnover along Leonard Street” to promote shopping and not all-day parking along the town’s “High Street.”
Selectman Mark Paolillo brought up the running concern of workers using on-street parking spaces by suggesting employee designated parking spaces in the three municipal lots with the remaining spaces limited to four hours or less.
“Let’s start thinking about this now before the Macy’s site opens,” said Paolillo.