By Dan Murphy
Based on recommendations from the Beacon Hill Civic Association and the Beacon Hill Business Association, the city has reconfigured parking on Charles Street.
The changes, made in conjunction with the Civic Association Traffic and Parking Committee and the Joint Charles Street Committee, include switching two metered spaces on the east side of the block between Pinckney and Mt. Vernon streets from commercial to 30-minute “rapid-turnover” spaces, as well as one commercial space located in front of the Sloane Merrill Gallery and Sevens Ale House at 75 and 77 Charles St., respectively, to a two-hour metered space.
On the west side of the block between Mt. Vernon and Chestnut streets, one commercial space has been switched to a 30-minute space and two commercial spaces to two-hour metered spaces.
Five metered spaces on the side of the block between Branch and Beacon streets were also changed from commercial to 30-minute spaces.
The changes were facilitated through the efforts of Jacob Wessel, the city’s Office of Neighborhood Services liaison for Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Mission Hill and Fenway, and Kevin Donahue of the Boston Transportation Department, said Ben Starr, chair of the Traffic and Parking Committee.
“Essentially, we have created a new class of parking space on Charles Street in place of many of the commercial spaces,” Starr wrote in an e-mail. “These spaces are metered 30-minute spaces that can be occupied by either a visitor to Charles Street or a truck looking to load/unload. The thinking behind it was that commercial spaces were left unoccupied for long stretches of the day. Additionally, visitors to Charles Street incurred significant tickets for missing the signs and parking in these Commercial spots.”
The latest reconfiguration is an amendment to a plan spearheaded by the Joint Charles Street Committee in 2013 that increased available evening parking for residents and resulted in a net gain of 13 metered-spaces on the street, bringing the total to around 140. To achieve these results, the city eliminated some 15-minute spaces, streamlined commercial loading zones and made other changes to the previous parking configuration.
“I think that we honestly had good plan in place, but there was an opportunity to help businesses with 30-minute rapid turnover spaces, and adding six of them might be a good test,” said John Corey, co-chair of the Joint Charles Street Committee. “The two-hour meters also give everyone maximum flexibility, since they don’t have to feed the meter every 30 minutes.”
Virgil Aiello, proprietor of DeLuca’s Market at 11 Charles St., who was among the business owners lobbying to change that parking reconfiguration, said he had hoped that the city would reinstate 15-minute metered spaces.
“Prior to change, we had very fluid availability for both patrons of various businesses in area and for commercial deliveries,” Aiello said. “The bottom line is there’s an insufficient provision for efficient turnover and potential problems due to commercial vehicles not being able to unload.”
Aiello also pointed to the need for additional signage informing drivers of the parking limits.
Ali Ringenburg, vice president of the Business Association and owner of the Sloane Merrill Gallery, expects the new parking arrangement will help curb the persistent problem of contractors occupying commercial spaces on Charles Street for long periods of time.
“There’s no right answer to all of this, but what we’ve come to now is the best solution possible,” Ringenburg said.