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LETTER: Re-Zoning Austin Street Lot Will be Detrimental to Newtonville Residents, Merchants

A letter to the editor from former Alderman Allan Ciccone (Sr.) regarding the re-zoning of the Austin Street municipal lot.

Editor's note: The Board of Aldermen is currently considering an item that would re-zone the Austin Street municipal parking lot to a "Mixed-Use 4" zone. This follows a study done by a joint advisory planning group (JAPG), which recommended the lot be used for a combination of housing and commercial space, or a mixed-use site. 

In addition, the Traffic Council considered last month removing several metered spots in Newtonville at Walnut Street and Newtonville Avenue to improve crosswalk visibility. 

Dear Editor -- 

I am writing because I do not agree with the city taking away 85 parking spaces from the Newtonville Municipal Parking Lot on Austin Street, re-zoning the parking lot and selling it. In my opinion, it will be detrimental to the residents of Newtonville and the merchants who need parking spaces for customers and employees.

I am a former aldermen-at-large from Ward 2 and when I was first elected to the Board of Aldermen in 1991, Newtonville had a serious parking problem.

At Newtonville Avenue and Walnut Street there was a former church that had been converted to an office building. At that time there was a medical company that had a lot of employees who were parking on the streets close to where they were working, as they could. But, it became a serious problem for the neighbors.

I worked very hard with both the medical company and residents. Several streets needed parking regulations and time restrictions were placed on some streets. The owner of the medical company also gave his employees quarters and told them to park in the municipal parking lot. In addition, the medical company was in negotiations with the Mass. Pike to have a strip parking lot built on Bowers Street with private funds.

Things were looking good until the city gave a contract out and the contractor needed a place to park his trucks. The city gave the contractor the rear of the Austin Street parking lot and a gate was installed to close of the lot. Now there was a real problem: no place to park.

In order to get a parking space, it was first come first serve. The Star Market had employees watching their parking lot, as it was for customers only, and violators were towed. The police were giving out parking tickets for violations on the side streets. 

At this point, the medical company moved out of Newton. One must remember the office building on Newtonville Avenue and Walnut Street has only two parking spaces, which means their tenants must use public parking. Since the medical company has moved, I cannot remember not seeing a "space for rent" sign on the building.

This month, the traffic council has also taken away five parking meters for crosswalks in Newtonville. Plus, we have new restaurants in Newtonville (which is good). However, my concern is that if the 85 parking spaces are done away with and the property sold, Newtonville will have the same parking problem as Newton Centre, or even worse.

--Allan Ciccone Sr.

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