Facing many critics from the public that showed up to speak against two-way Broadway, the City Council on Monday decided to defer any vote and, instead, hold a Committee on Conference to review the matter.
In August, the Traffic Commission voted 5-1 to approve the two-way plan, as well as a spate of many other non-controversial changes to Fay Square, Chelsea Square, Bellingham Square and City Hall Avenue.
Council President Damali Vidot called for the committee, and the Council approved the move. She said they had until Oct. 6 to hold the meeting and to have a vote of the full Council. The City Council must approve all actions of the Traffic Commission, but if they do not do so by Oct. 6, the Commission’s approval will become law.
Many on the Council have not made their opinions known yet, but some have, and ultimately the fate of two-way Broadway will fall on the votes of 11 members of the Council.
Council President Vidot has been critical of the idea, and has particularly disagreed with the planning process that has unfolded over the past two years. In the past, she has been against the change.
Councillor Leo Robinson, however, said this week he is in favor of two-way Broadway.
“I’m a two-way Broadway guy,” he said.
Councillor Joe Perlatonda has also spoke in favor of the plan, and said the one-way plan is dangerous because it calls for cars to park outside of the protected bike lane. He said that would leave those exiting their cars in a dangerous position with oncoming traffic and with oncoming bicyclists.
Meanwhile, Councillor Bob Bishop said he doesn’t buy the idea of two-way Broadway. To this point, he said he isn’t convinced it’s a good change.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino and Chief Brian Kyes are some of the biggest advocates, and though they don’t have a vote, they have strongly called for the change for months.
Resident Sharleen McLain, however, was one of several residents who said the plan is flawed and has been forced upon the public.
“From the very first it was clear the City Manager and the planners have been pretty bent on getting two-way Broadway,” she said. “They’ve been pretty manipulative in moving forward on this two-way plan. None of these meetings have allowed for meaningful input. It wasn’t until the July Traffic Commission meeting that members of the public were able to speak directly to the plans.”
Said Barbara Richard, “I think two-way Broadway is spot-on dead wrong. Businesses will go under. I also think it hasn’t been a good enough outreach to the community.”
Ambrosino said he is in favor of the two-way plan, but he implored the Council to consider the plan is much more than just the two-way Broadway situation. He said there are many, many more non-controversial changes in the package that people do want universally.
“Much of what is before you is non-controversial,” he said. “Whether it’s Fay Square, Bellingham Square or City Hall Avenue, these provisions have no opposition to the changes.”
The Council will meet next on Monday, Sept. 24, and the Conference Committee will likely take place next week.
One can raise a six-pack to the end of summer if they’re a legal-aged hardworking resident, but one will no longer be able to raise up a 250ml nip bottle due to a continuing voluntary ban by Chelsea liquor stores courtesy of the Chelsea License Commission.
The Chelsea Licensing commission met again on the topic of 250 mL alcohol bottles on Aug. 28 in the Chelsea Public Library to packed room of invested residents, owners, commissioners, and police. They were all there to address the contentious topic of permanently banning 100ml to 250ml bottles and single can/malt bottle beverages.
Following from the initial commission decision to employ a voluntary ban on the June 26, the rare Aug. 28 meeting was an update to see about further action.
Over the summer downtown stores stopped selling nips and voluntarily stopped selling other small bottles as well as two very low-cost liquor brands identified as problematic.
The meeting ended with the resulting community agreeing to maintain a voluntary ban of 100ml and 250ml bottles and new, agreed-upon stipulations for community liquor store owners. The agreement comes on the heels of escalating community tensions with what Chelsea Police have described as “50 or so” individuals who constantly perpetrate public intoxication and littering problems for Chelsea community residents and visitors.
“I can tell you [increasing nip littering] has definitely decreased,” said Chelsea Police Capt. Keith Houghton.
The Chelsea Police Department seemed confident in the immediate results they have witnessed in the following weeks of the proposed ban. However when questioned by License Chair Michael Rossi if the results could be quantified, the police shifted focus and explained they now require a three-hour alcohol safety course.
“I find it really hard to believe there have been no incidents of drunkenness [since the voluntary ban],” stated commission member Roseann Bongiovanni with open skepticism.
Bongiovanni wasn’t the only person in attendance that openly questioned the Police Department’s results and the lasting impression of the ban thus far. Robert Mellion, executive director of the Massachusetts Package Store Association, also made his case in the two minutes allotted for public hearings.
“Less restrictive means have completed your goals,” Mellion stated, continuing “There’s no wall around Chelsea.”
Multiple residents and store owners echoed Mellion’s sentiment, agreeing that a legal ban instead of a voluntary ban infringed upon the rights of residents to legally purchase alcohol and would not begin to fully cover the larger issue at hand, alcoholism. The general sentiment being that there was nothing to stop these individuals from getting the same banned 250 ml bottles from liquor stores in neighboring cities and towns.
Mellion addressed those in attendance by listing the critical steps the License Commission, store owners, and police department should collaborate on together. Accomplishing cooperation by employing a voluntary ban of 100ml bottles, establishing a alcohol beverage training course and certification for liquor store owners, maintaining a do not sell list for specific individuals, along with impeding sales to intoxicated buyers.
It was agreed by the Commission to maintain a voluntary ban instead of a permanent one, keying in on public sentiment to not overextend their legal rights over Chelsea residents’ ability to purchase alcohol and promote community agreement and turnout to these meetings.
The training course has already been attended by all 12 local liquor stores, of which 25 individuals from these stores achieved the needed passing score of 75 or better. The Police Department also stated that seven individuals scored a 100.
The voluntary ban itself has not been enough to assuage some residents’ concerns, though. Edon Coimbra, owner of Ciao! Pizza and Pasta, was not content with the decision to tackle part of what he sees as the bigger problem.
“What are you going to do protect us?” Coimbra questioned, adding, “I cannot be dealing with the same individuals every day.”
The Comission had no response for a full blown initiative in tackling persistent alcoholism in Chelsea, and the voluntary ban will have to be measured through quantitative metrics that Rossi and Bongiovanni both identified a need for.
Alcoholism remains the bigger problem to many local residents like Coimbra who must deal with intoxicated individuals loitering near his restaurant on a daily basis, leaving his restaurant and other areas reliant on police assistance for these incidents.
The Commission will take up the issue again in three months.
The good news for Chelsea residents is that the $5 million redesign of the Broadway business district is moving forward, and a final decision will be made by the City Council about its exact components next month.
And if the vision and innovativeness that City Manager Tom Ambrosino fostered in all parts of Revere can be matched here, then Chelsea residents can expect a Broadway and Bellingham Square bustling with activity and commerce.
But a big question about “The New Broadway” remains: Should the six city blocks from Williams Street to City Hall Avenue be a one-way street (as it exists now and has for many decades) or a two-way street?
The Chelsea Traffic Commission hosted a public meeting Tuesday night at City Hall to hear residents’ opinions about the potential change of Broadway to a two-way street. The Commission is scheduled to vote on the matter at its next meeting before the Council casts the final vote about the entire redesign project, including the traffic plan.
Alexander Train, Chelsea’s assistant director of the department of planning and development, gave a thorough presentation of the re-imagined Broadway project that will totally transform the business district’s intersections, sidewalks, bicycle paths, tree pits, and physical appearance.
“We’ve completed the planning and development portion of the process and we’re now approaching the Traffic Commission to vote and adopt and enact the plan,” said Train. “Their vote will be relayed to City Council, who has the authority to approve or reject their decision.”
Police Chief Brian Kyes spoke in favor of a two-way Broadway, saying it would improve the flow of traffic.
“If a person double parks his vehicle, we have a reason to tow the vehicle ASAP,” said Kyes. “We want to keep the traffic flowing.”
Kyes said he was happy to hear that the intersection of Broadway and Third Street will have traffic lights in the redesign project. “Broadway and Third is probably one of the most dangerous intersections in the entire state,” said Kyes.
He said that when he drove from the police station to City Hall for the meeting, “the backup when I got to Hawthorne Street was incredible, because everybody is making the loop (around Broadway). I think the final [redesign] project makes a lot of sense. I drive down Broadway, Revere all the time and I very, very rarely see double parking there.” Councillor-at-Large Damlili
Vidot said she would like to see the city pay more attention to cleaning up Broadway (such as removing the weed in the metal grates). She also disputed the claim that two-way traffic would curtail double parking and that it would make it safer for pedestrians. She also asked about potential back-ups on the Tobin Bridge and how it would affect traffic on a two-way Broadway.
Vidot said she was not happy with the swiftness of the entire redesign process.
“I urge everyone to just take several steps back and let’s figure out a way to engage more people,” said Vidot. “The way that this process has gone, having a meeting in the middle of summer when the City Council isn’t even meeting – in a hot room where everyone is aggravated and we had to wait 10 minutes to even start the meeting, all of it is just not right.”
Ambrosino, who favors a two-way Broadway, said the traffic configuration should not predominate the discussion of the redesign project.
“That’s only a small part of the reimaging Broadway,” said Ambrosino. “Many of the improvements [to Bellingham Square, Fay Square, City Hall Avenue, traffic signals at dangerous intersections] are happening regardless of which of these two configurations between Williams and Fifth Streets is chosen. Even the one-way configuration is a major improvement over the two-lane speedway that currently exists on Broadway. The two-way configuration is still safer, calmer, and slower for bicylists and pedestrians.”
Ambrosino said the two-way configuration will be “transformative.”
“It will make a difference to the feel and the look of that downtown. It makes it vibrant. It makes it aesthetically pleasing. This will be better for pedestrians, for traffic, and for businesses.”
Rick Gordon, owner of Allen Cut Rite on Broadway, said the No. 1 issue in the downtown district is parking. “I personally prefer a one-way plan for the flow of traffic. The street is much narrower than other communities and I don’t think two-way makes a business more visible.”
Gordon credited the Chelsea Police for their efforts in slowing down motorists and enforcing double-parking restrictions on Broadway. Some residents at the meeting had noted that double-parking is a recurring issue on Broadway.
Councillor-at-Large Roy Avellaneda, whose family owns Tito’s Bakery, asked whether the City Council will have to vote on the redesign project in its entirety as opposed to voting on individual components such as the traffic configuration, and the placement of new bus stops and traffic lights on Broadway.
Following more than two hours of discussion, the one-way/two-way Broadway issue remains a hotly debated one and all eyes will be on the Traffic Commission when it convenes for a vote at its next meeting.WE should be Ambrosino said he favors a two-way Broadway
For the past several days, articles in the national media have reported accusations of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s sexual improprieties with several adults and his criminal violations of the sexual abuse of minors. These alleged actions, when committed by any person, are morally unacceptable and incompatible with the role of a priest, bishop or cardinal.
I am deeply troubled by these reports that have traumatized many Catholics and members of the wider community. In one case involving a minor the Archdiocese of New York, after investigation, has found the accusation to be credible and substantiated. While another accusation concerning a minor is yet to be investigated, the reports are devastating for the victims, their families and for the Church itself. Each new report of clerical abuse at any level creates doubt in the minds of many that we are effectively addressing this catastrophe in the Church.
These cases and others require more than apologies. They raise up the fact that when charges are brought regarding a bishop or a cardinal, a major gap still exists in the Church’s policies on sexual conduct and sexual abuse. While the Church in the United States has adopted a zero tolerance policy regarding the sexual abuse of minors by priests we must have clearer procedures for cases involving bishops. Transparent and consistent protocols are needed to provide justice for the victims and to adequately respond to the legitimate indignation of the community. The Church needs a strong and comprehensive policy to address bishops’ violations of the vows of celibacy in cases of the criminal abuse of minors and in cases involving adults.
My experience in several dioceses and my work with the members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors have brought me to this conclusion. The Church needs to swiftly and decisively take action regarding these matters of critical importance. In every instance of claims made by victims of sexual abuse, whether criminal violations or the abuse of power, the primary concern must be for the victim, their family and their loved ones. The victims are to be commended for bringing to light their tragic experience and must be treated with respect and dignity. Recent media reports also have referenced a letter sent to me from Rev. Boniface Ramsey, O.P. in June of 2015, which I did not personally receive. In keeping with the practice for matters concerning the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, at the staff level the letter was reviewed and determined that the matters presented did not fall under the purview of the Commission or the Archdiocese of Boston, which was shared with Fr. Ramsey in reply.
These accusations are understandably a source of great disappointment and anger for many. These cases, involving a cardinal, must be viewed in light of the last two decades of the Church’s experience with clerical sexual abuse. It is my conviction that three specific actions are required at this time. First, a fair and rapid adjudication of these accusations; second, an assessment of the adequacy of our standards and policies in the Church at every level, and especially in the case of bishops; and third, communicating more clearly to the Catholic faithful and to all victims the process for reporting allegations against bishops and cardinals. Failure to take these actions will threaten and endanger the already weakened moral authority of the Church and can destroy the trust required for the Church to minister to Catholics and have a meaningful role in the wider civil society. In this moment there is no greater imperative for the Church than to hold itself accountable to address these matters, which I will bring to my upcoming meetings with the Holy See with great urgency and concern.
When Kim Sinatra appeared beside Matt Maddox for Wynn Resorts’ high-stakes meeting before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) in early May, many thought her to be on shaky ground with the company – though that
Wynn general Counsel Kim Sinatra speaks to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) during license hearings in 2014. She is flanked by former Gov. Bill Weld and current Encore President Bob DeSalvio. Sinatra will resign from Wynn Resorts on July 15, and is remembered here as being a key negotiator in helping Wynn make the final push to secure the Greater Boston region gaming license.
day she appeared to be every-bit in control and ingrained in the company.
It is no longer the case.
In a quiet announcement buried within a federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) document, the company announced that Sinatra would be leaving her general counsel post on July 15.
Wynn Resorts did not respond to the Independent for comment on the shake-up, and hasn’t issued any statements or talked to any other media. There has been no reason given for her departure.
Las Vegas media reported that Sinatra would have a severance package of up to $9.5 million.
Wynn Shareholder Elaine Wynn – now the company’s largest single shareholder – has disputed that severance package in media statements.
Sinatra was a powerful force in the early days of Wynn’s entrance into the Boston market via the Everett site. She was front and center during many of the licensing hearings, in particular a very intense deliberating process at the Boston Teacher’s Union Hall in Dorchester in 2014.
During that meeting, Sinatra talked for many nervous moments on the phone with Steve Wynn about whether or not he would commit to additional mitigation measures – that happening in front of the entire room and in front of the competitor, Mohegan Sun.
After brokering that deal, Sinatra emerged from the phone with a ‘yes’ to the commitments, virtually sealing the license for Wynn at the time.
Since those early days, however, Sinatra has not been at the Encore site too often – only during a few permitting meetings and the major Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) meetings.
By most accounts, the order put in by Councillor Giovanni Recupero on Monday night to effectively put term limits on members of appointed boards and commissions in the city would have been voted down in year’s past.
But the new Council has a new outlook, and the order was approved and pushed to a Committee on Conference by a vote of 7-4 on Monday night.
The measure calls for the Council to adopt a policy that would require the Council not to be able to re-appoint any member of a Board or Commission if they have served two consecutive terms already. The provision would only take effect if someone else in Chelsea is willing to serve on the Board. If no one else is interested, then the re-appointment could go through.
“I’m not for anyone serving over and over and over,” said Recupero. “They need fresh ideas. Some of these people on the boards have been there 20 years. Nothing changes with that. It’s all just the status quo. I’m even for term limits on the Council. I don’t think anyone should serve more than 10 years. It should be 10 years and then you’re out. Same for the Boards and Commissions.”
Recupero’s order did get some pushback, with opposing votes from Councillors Roy Avellaneda, Leo Robinson, Yamir Rodriguez and Calvin Brown.
However, seven other councillors were behind Recupero’s idea.
It continued a hot debate that began last year when Councillor Roy Avellaneda attempted to not re-appoint License Commission member Ken Umemba. That political skirmish led to Councillors Vidot and Enio Lopez presenting an order last fall that called for an effort to have more diversity on the City’s boards.
That was followed up by Vidot unearthing in the Charter that the City had not been advertising the open positions in the paper due to an oversight. That has now begun on a quarterly basis.
Vidot said the matter is now moved to a Committee on Conference.
In the last meeting of the year for the City Council, members voted in several new appointments and re-appointments to City boards – including the approval of long-time activist Gladys Vega to sit on the Planning Board.
Vega received a 10-0 vote with Councillor Giovanni Recupero being absent for all the appointment votes.
Vega said she was looking to get more active in the City’s committees, especially since there has been a call for more people to fill the volunteer – yet critical – roles. She said she planned to become increasingly active in City matters in the coming years if all goes well on the Planning Board.
Meanwhile, Chelsea Housing Chair Tom Standish stepped down from the Board after a monumental and tremendous job in his role as chair for the past several years.
Former CHA Board member Bert Taverna was voted in 10-0 to replace Standish.
Standish was one of the first members of the new Board appointed by the state and former City Manager Jay Ash when the CHA went into receivership following the Michael McLaughlin scandal.
Standish was a solid presence on the Board in the years following the scandal, helping to put the once-troubled CHA back onto solid footing after the fleecing done by McLaughlin to virtually every part of the organization.
Standish led the Board throughout the difficult process, and helped to take it from a troubled agency to a top performer.
After those two appointments, there was Council politics that entered the room, with Councillor Damali Vidot clashing with Councillor Roy Avellaneda on the nine re-appointments.
Vidot has been a staunch advocate for getting new and different people on the City’s boards and said she discovered in the Charter that the City is required to advertise open Board and Commission seats. However, due to an oversight, that hasn’t been done in some time.
Avellaneda disputed that such a thing was in the Charter, and read Section 4 that did not include any such language.
However, after some tussling between members, City Manager Tom Ambrosino said it is in Section 9 of the Charter and it was an oversight. He said he will begin to advertise quarterly any openings in the English and Spanish-language newspapers.
To make a point, Vidot voted against all nine re-appointments, which were mostly non-controversial and resulted in 9-1 votes of approval.
Planning Board member Todd Taylor did elicit some controversy, as he was approved by a vote of 7-3, with Councillors Judith Garcia, Vidot and Avellaneda voting against him.
Those voted in on a 9-1 vote were:
Olivier del Melle, Dudley Street, Planning Board
Emmanuel Tellez, Broadway, Board of Health
Robert Pereira, Gerrish Avenue, Historical Commission (replacing Ilana Ascher)
George Pazos, Union Street, Traffic & Parking Commission
Marlene Jennings, Breakwater Drive, Cultural Council
Mark Rossi, Clark Avenue, License Commission
Robert Lynch, Shawmut Street, Conservation Commission
As the U.S. Supreme Court weighs the merits of legalizing sports betting nationwide, eyes in the region and at the state Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) can’t help but focus on that decision as well.
Were the court to side with those pushing to legalize sports betting nationwide – as it currently only exists legally as a grandfathered provision in Las Vegas – it could mean billions of dollars in added gaming revenues to the Wynn Boston Harbor casino when it opens in 2019.
While plans are already in place for the typical table games and slot machines at the casino, expanding it to include sports betting would mean an opportunity for the City, state and Wynn to capitalize on an even larger gaming market.
The American Gaming Association (AGA), a trade organization that represents all gaming entities, estimates that $150 billion is wagered on sports illegally every year, and often postulates that such illegal betting on the Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four events have become commonplace – making the prohibition almost a joke in their opinion.
Last summer, the AGA estimated that Massachusetts could gain $682 million in economic output, $133 million in added tax revenue and an additional 3,261 new jobs if sports betting were allowed as part of the expanded gaming act.
For Wynn, it would simply mean an expansion of their existing, and very popular, sports and racing book in Las Vegas.
After oral arguments on Dec. 4 at the high court in Washington, D.C., Wynn officials said they remain interested in the case.
“We at Wynn Boston Harbor are watching the court case with interest,” said Bob DeSalvio, president of Wynn Boston Harbor. “Our industry supports legalized and regulated sports betting but the ultimate decision rests with the courts, state and federal lawmakers and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.”
The MGC will deliberated precisely on the matter last week at their monthly meeting Thursday, Dec. 7. Spokesperson Elaine Driscoll said there hasn’t been much discussion of the issue by the Commission aside from a short mention in a paper drafted last year on Daily Fantasy Sports. The Supreme Court case, however, is expected to have discussion before the Commission this week.
“We are following any developments closely,” said Driscoll. “The Commission has not taken an official position on this topic. I do anticipate it will be raised at the Commission meeting on Thursday. Part of that conversation will be a report on the arguments before the Supreme Court, as the Commission decides next steps.”
Following the meeting, the MGC did call for a White Paper to be researched and drafted on the possibility of legalized sports betting in the Commonwealth.
For the AGA, President Geoff Freeman said after the arguments that he was encouraged by the questions and will await to see the courts ruling in the months to come.
“It was a positive day for the millions of Americans seeking to legally wager on sporting events,” he said on the afternoon of Dec. 4. “While we can’t predict the intentions of Supreme Court Justices, we can accurately predict the demise of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection of 1992 (PASPA). The justices of the Court expressed deep interest in the role of the federal government – a role that we believe has created a thriving illegal market that has driven trillions of dollars to offshore websites and corner bookies. States and tribal sovereign nations have proven to be effective regulators of gaming and today’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court moved them one giant step closer to offering a new product that Americans demand.”
At issue in the case is the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which has come up through the case Christie (as in New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie) vs. NCAA. The state of New Jersey pushed the boundaries of sports betting in 2012 and tried to institute it within their state – only to be stopped by lawsuits from five sports leagues, including Major League Baseball. That case has wound itself through several federal jurisdictions until landing at the high court earlier this year.
The act was put in place following the fallout from the Pete Rose baseball betting scandal, which is often forgotten nowadays. At the time, it was a popular sentiment and seen as a necessary protection. However, as time has gone on, the public has clamored to the trend of betting on sports of all kinds – and most all of it done illegally.
When the act passed, both New Jersey and Nevada – the only jurisdictions that qualified for grandfathering – had the ability to continue with sports betting. Only Nevada proceeded, which is why today the only legal sports bets in the United States are in Nevada.
That is where Wynn keeps its blockbuster Race & Sports Book, an actual area of its casino in Las Vegas that the company has just renovated at great expense.
The new area at the Wynn Las Vegas resort offers 1,600 sw. ft. of wraparound LED televisions for viewing events, food, a bar, and personal viewing areas with all the comforts one demands. A smaller Race & Sports Book venue at Wynn Encore also exists there.
The Wynn Race & Sports Book also offers a mobile app for placing a wager in that jurisdiction on any horse race or sports contest without ever having to leave one’s seat if in the state of Nevada in the City of Las Vegas.
Chief Brian A. Kyes announced late last week that the Chelsea Police will be conducting unannounced checks on all licensed establishments that sell or serve liquor.
These inspections will be conducted throughout 2017 and will include a focus on underage drinking. All licensed establishments must abide by City and state regulations as part of doing business in the city. The goal of the inspections is to educate and ensure that these businesses in Chelsea follow the established legal guidelines. Several Chelsea officers have received liquor enforcement training and will be tasked to conduct these inspections and to report any infractions to the Chelsea Licensing Commission who has the authority to impose sanctions.
“Chelsea has very strict liquor control standards and it is the responsibility of the owners and management to ensure that all of their employees are aware of these regulations,” Kyes said. “I am hoping that our inspections find all businesses to be in compliance.”
After having voted down a two-hour parking proposal for Cary Square on the May 22 City Council meeting – yet not having enough votes to deny it according to the City Charter – the Council re-assembled on Tuesday night, May 30, to give it one more try.
And the result was the same, except this time the measure – championed by Pan Y Cafe owner Councillor Roy Avellaneda and some other business leaders in the Square – was defeated 7-2.
Those voting to keep the measure were Councillor Matt Frank and Dan Cortell. Councillor Avellaneda had recused himself from the proceedings due to his financial interest, and Councillor Recupero was absent again from the meeting.
Those voting to rescind the Traffic Commission’s two-hour parking plan – for eight total spots – in the Square were Councillors Damali Vidot, Luis Tejada, Enio Lopez, Judith Garcia, Leo Robinson, Yamir Rodriguez and Paul Murphy.
The matter was believed to be done and finished on May 22 after a heated meeting that drew scores of residents commenced, and a vote of 5-2 ended the matter.
However, the next day it was discovered that a Traffic Commission decision had to be overturned by a majority vote of the Council, meaning at least six votes were required. Councillor Rodriguez immediately filed reconsideration of the matter, and since there was a time limit to addressing the matter within 30 days, Council President Robinson called the Special Emergency Meeting for this Tuesday.
The rules were explained and both Frank and Cortell questioned if it was appropriate. After explaining all of the logistics, with everyone satisfied, the final vote took place.
The meeting lasted about 10 minutes.
The Tuesday meeting was just a continuation of two previous, heated meetings about the issue – as well as some heated Traffic Commission meetings earlier in the year.
On May 22, scores of residents and business owners flooded the Council Chambers, some to oppose the restrictions on the eight new two-hour parking signs and some to support them. Avellaneda first brought the idea to the Traffic Commission earlier this year and called for an expansive meter program. He argued that commuters were taking all of the parking in the Square in order to use the 111 bus, which prevented his business and others from using the parking for customers.
The Commission compromised and instituted the eight, two-hour spots on a trial basis through August.
However, many businesses and many members of the Cary Square Club were outraged by the development and called on the Council to use a little-known oversight power to reject the Cary Square parking program.
The Commission’s report was approved two weeks ago, but the Cary Square matter was pulled from the report and held over until Monday night.
“There was not an issue there and never has been an issue,” said Karen Moschella of Off Broadway Dance. “No one is parking in Cary Square and taking the bus in. Maybe further up on Washington Avenue, ok, but not here.”
Zaida Ismatul-Oliva, of Spruce Street, said she and her mother opposed the change.
“I find it problematic that we’re now trying to change two-hour parking for one or two businesses in the area when its always been parking for residents,” she said.
Dan Morales, of the Blue Frog Sports Bar in Cary Square, said he likes the idea.
“I’m in favor of the parking restrictions because I think it will help businesses,” he said. “I have personally seen people park and take the bus and take up spots for five or six hours. That limits the amount of business you can do.”
Michael Albano of Willard Street said it was time to make a change to liven up that business district.
“It seems to me the Parking Commission got it right,” he said. “I would like to make Cary Square a place people want to go and make vibrant and a place that businesses can flourish.”
But most councillors did not agree.
Councillor Rodriguez said it simply wasn’t the right time given the fact that the Clark Avenue School was under construction and taking up a lot of spaces temporarily.
Councillor Tejada, whose district is nearby, was also in agreement, saying that some 15 or more spaces are taken up at the Clark Avenue project, forcing residents to push parking into the Square.
“I’m not in favor of this because it’s just not the right timing,” Rodriguez said. “We have a lot of projects going on right now and it’s pushing the parking issue to other places. We need to wait until that is finished and we should solve the parking issue another way. Two hour parking is not the solution.”
Councillor Cortell, however, agreed with the issue. Living on Admiral’s Hill, he said he rarely visits Cary Square because it is too complicated to get to and park.
“I think the Parking and Traffic Commission got it right,” he said. “They did compromise. It was on a trial basis until August…The Traffic Commission meetings were well attended…They chose a compromise. I’m in favor of the compromise.”
In the end, the Council prevailed in rescinding the two-hour parking, and there was no apparent appeal effort or alternative plan being proposed.