Photo: Concord Avenue adjacent to the new Belmont Middle and High School
The Belmont Select Board on Monday, Dec. 20, approved a four-week trial plan to force the majority of high school students who drive to the new Belmont Middle and High School off of side streets and back to parking on the main thoroughfare that runs by the facility.
The proposal will take place from Monday, Jan. 3 to Friday, Jan. 28 afterwards the plan will be reviewed and extended, ended or revamped.
Advanced by the Traffic Working Group – Middle and High School, it comes after town officials heard an earful from local residents concerning throngs of high school pupils who found the best parking spaces to the building was right off the main road.
“One of the purposes of the proposal is to restore the status quo of students not parking on side streets,” said Martin November, a task force member who led the effort.
The high school’s parking plan for seniors and juniors is a temporary one itself as there will be no student parking on site until the middle school wing is built. One hundred spaces along the north side of Concord Avenue was allocated to students by the school through a lottery. The spaces are in two sections along Concord Avenue from Underwood Road to the Belmont Public Library with another 90 off-street parking spaces linked to a new skating rink that would be built on the west side of Harris Field.
But soon after the September opening of the new high school wing complaints from homeowners started that their streets were teeming with cars during school hours; parking close to driveways and intersections, creating pinch points where traffic can travel and making deliveries and trash collection much more difficult. When they did call to complain, police response was slow due to current staffing levels.
An October survey conducted by residents on behalf of the working group found approximately 120 student cars coming daily to the school with 56 parking on Concord, six on Goden Street, 12 on Oak Street, approximately 20 in the Orchard/Orchard Circle/Stone Road loop and 20 occupying the jug handle site opposite the library.
November told the Select Board’s Mark Paolillo and Roy Epstein – Select Board Chair Adam Dash recused himself from the discussion and vote as he lives on Goden Street – that students, some who possess reserved passes for the coveted 100 lottery spaces, were parking along adjacent roadways such as lower Orchard Street for a simple reason: it’s less of a trek to the school than parking on Concord Avenue closer to Harris Field and the skating rink.
“We do want them back on Concord (Avenue),” said Paolillo.
The proposal will consist of four steps:
- Identify the side streets to be targeted.
- No parking from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on school days unless the vehicle has a town-approved placard.
- Commercial vehicles and those on public business will be exempt.
- Residents will receive a placard that exempts them from the parking ban.
And the targeted streets are:
- Goden Street below School
- Oak Street
- Orchard Street below School
- Trowbridge Street
- Underwood Street
- Baker Street
- Concord Street east bound (the southside of the roadway) from Cottage Street to Louise Road.
No parking signs will be placed on cones and on existing posts on the targeted streets.