Ambrosino, Walsh Wary of 4 A.M. Encore Liquor License

Everett might be all-in on the 4 a.m. extending liquor license for Encore Boston Harbor, but surrounding cities like Chelsea aren’t so excited.

In comments this week, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino said they weren’t in favor of Encore’s request for a limited 4 a.m. liquor license from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC). The request is currently under review and in a public comment period. It would only apply to those actively engaged in gaming, and the last call would be 3:30 a.m. Most other liquor licenses have a 2 a.m. cutoff.

Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he doesn’t support the idea, seeing no advantage to Chelsea in having a luxury casino open late just a few hundred yards from the Chelsea city line.

“That would have no positive benefit to the City of Chelsea, so it would not be something I would favor,” he said.

Mayor Martin Walsh agreed with those sentiments as well.

“When the Legislature wrote the bill to have casino gaming, it was a 2 a.m. liquor license, which I voted on,” said Mayor Walsh. “I think that at this point in time, we should get the casino open, and see how the 2 a.m. license works. If there is a need, if there is a desire, or if there is a concern that it hampers the business, then I think we should explore the opportunity of maybe going until 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. But right now, at opening, closing at 2 a.m. – let’s see what it looks like. You can’t say there are concerns there until it’s open. I would request we wait and then have a full vetting. Right now it needs to be opened and see how it all works with a 2 a.m. closing.”

Meanwhile, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria said the later closing hour is critical to the casino being an international destination, as no such 2 a.m. rules apply in other locales where Wynn Resorts operates.

“The City of Everett is committed to supporting the success of the Encore Boston Harbor Resort,” he said. “In order for it to be a destination for an international clientele, the resort needs to be able to offer these clients a cocktail during the time they play. At 2 a.m., all the bars and restaurants will be closed, and drinks will only be served to those on the casino floor by a trained and certified server. Over-serving and irresponsible behavior will not be tolerated.”

He added that State Police, Everett Police and Encore security would be on site during the late hours and transportation services would be available for guests.

Walsh said he realizes that the Springfield casino already has a 4 a.m. license, but he also added that the circumstances are different in Everett. He said there are a lot of other cities and towns in the immediate area without such licenses. He said there has to be a dialog with everyone after the first six months.

“I’m not going to assume they’ll do 4 a.m.,” he said. “I’ll ask the Gaming Commission to be respectful of the surrounding cities and towns and see how the process works and see how the casino does in its first six months. Then we’ll revisit it and have a conversation and dialog at this point.

“We filed legislation (in Boston) a few years ago to open some of the bars and clubs later,” he continued. “So, that’s why I think you need a six-month vetting. Let’s assume for a moment the Gaming Commission grants the 4 a.m. license, that puts a lot of businesses in surrounding cities and town, including Boston, at a serious disadvantage. I think let’s wait and see what the 2 a.m. does…It’s not simply opening the casino until 4 a.m. It’s about having a conversation about other cities and towns and their licenses and what would happen in their establishments.”

The MGC is expected to talk more about the 4 a.m. license application at its next meeting on May 22.

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City Budget Request Submitted and Sits at $181.5 Million

City Manager Thomas Ambrosino presented a city budget just short of $181,500,000 for Fiscal Year 2020 to the City Council Monday night.

The proposed budget funds city expenditures at $86,095,981 and the schools at $95,391,784 for a total budget of $181,487,765. This budget is about $6.5 million more than the FY19 budget, an increase of 3.71 percent.

“The FY20 budget continues support for many programs we have implemented over the past few years,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the City Council.

The City Manager is proposing full funding for social services programs in the downtown, including the Navigators and Youth Navigator program. The Health and Human Services budget also includes a new social services contract to support the ISD housing program.

The budget does include new positions in three city departments — E-911, DPW, and Elder Services — and an increase from a part-time to a full-time position in the Licensing Department. The E-911 increase, a total of three new full-time positions, follows a personnel review by the department’s new director.

Increases in the DPW include personnel for a new 311 system as well as a group of new hires required for the city to operate its own Water and Sewer Department.

The FY20 budget includes funds in salary reserve to cover the anticipated costs of ongoing union negotiations with City Hall employees. With the exception of the police and fire union contracts, all municipal union contracts expire on June 30 of this year.

•In other business, the Council approved an order proposed by councillors Giovanni Recupero, Enio Lopez, Luis Tejada, and Damali Vidot requiring that all street cleanings should be limited to the same amount of time in every street. Lopez and Recupero both noted that residents who live in areas where they have to move their cars for five hours for street cleaning face greater hardship than those where street cleaning is limited to two hours.

•The council also held a public hearing on zoning amendments that will allow for outdoor dining and improved signage and facades in the city.

Several local business owners and city officials spoke in support of the zoning amendments, noting it would improve the look of the downtown and make for a livelier, safer city.

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In Contentious Vote, Council Votes to Allow Change to Insurance

Current and former municipal employees crowded into Monday night’s City Council meeting as the council took up a vote to allow City Manager Thomas Ambrosino to negotiate changes to the city’s group health insurance policies.

Most of those employees did not leave happily or quietly as the council voted 8-2 to grant Ambrosino that authority to negotiate the changes. Councillors Roy Avellaneda and Yamir Rodriguez voted against the order, while Councillor Calvin T. Brown was not present at the meeting.

The city’s current group health plan is governed by a three-year agreement with the Public Employee Committee (PEC) that expires on June 30 of this year.

“During the months of November through March, I did attempt to negotiate with the PEC a new multi-year agreement that would provide some cost savings to the group health plan,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the council. “Unfortunately, I have not been able to reach agreement with the unions.”

Under Massachusetts General Laws, Ambrosino stated, in the absence of a new agreement, the old PEC agreement will remain in effect indefinitely. Without City Council action, Ambrosino said he cannot put any health care cost savings in place.

The action approved by the City Council allows the city to take advantage of recent state legislation that allows municipalities to implement cost saving plan design changes on its own if no agreement can be reached with the PEC as long as the city agrees to share a percentage of its first year cost savings with the unions.

With the newly granted authority by the council, the City Manager said he will negotiate reasonable design changes to the city’s group health policies, likely by imposing deductibles in line with deductibles paid for health insurance by state employees.

Ambrosino said even with any changes, Chelsea will always have health insurance at least as good as that provided to Massachusetts public employees.

However, a letter to the City Council submitted by the Chelsea Public Employees Committee outlined over two dozen reasons why members believe the adoption of the changes to the group health insurance should not be adopted.

“The PEC strongly believes that the adoption of Sections 21-23 is inappropriate and premature for multiple reasons: the Self-Insurance Trust Fund is running about a $2 million surplus; the PEC has agreed to apply any surplus to reduce future health insurance costs; City Manager Thomas Ambrosino wants the sickest families among City employees and retirees to pay $1 million more on an annual basis currently paid by the City; the PEC and City Manager Thomas Ambrosino agree that no changes to employee/retiree health insurance are needed until FY2022; Ambrosino has failed to bargain in good faith for a successor PEC agreement; a grievance, including an alleged unfair labor practice, are pending at this time; and Sections 21-23 will effectively disable bargaining on health insurance,” the letter summarizes.

City Council President Damali Vidot noted that her husband works for the Department of Public Works and that any changes in health insurance would directly affect her. However, she said the changes are necessary to allow Ambrosino to negotiate with city unions.

“We hire the Town Manager to negotiate with the unions, and I’m not comfortable when he does not have all the tools needed for the negotiations,” said Vidot.

Vidot she said she hopes Ambrosino can go back to the unions with the new negotiating tools and find common ground with the unions. In addition to wanting the best for city employees, Vidot said the council has a fiscal responsibility for the entire community.

The council president also said that there has been some miscommunication on the issue, especially when it comes to retirees. Vidot said changes to group health insurance plans would only affect a very few retirees who do not qualify for Medicare.

District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop said he agreed that the City Manager should have all the tools available as he negotiates with the city’s union.

As the vote took place, many in the audience shouted and voiced their displeasure, with several people stating the council should be ashamed of their vote. The meeting came to a brief halt as the crowd noisily filed out of the council meeting, with several audience members individually appealing to councillors.

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MBTA Board Awards Contract for New Commuter Rail Station

The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board approved a $32.3 million contract that will result in the relocation and construction of a new, fully-accessible Chelsea Commuter Rail Station.

When complete, the new Chelsea Station will be an intermodal facility that connects the Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail Lines to the Silver Line 3-Chelsea service, which began operating in April 2018.

“This is a key investment in our Commuter Rail infrastructure that will allow for faster boarding and improved accessibility for people of all abilities,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “Once complete, the new station will serve as a multimodal connection that will give our customers the choice of traveling to North Station on the Commuter Rail or South Station on SL3 from a single point.”

Featuring high-level platforms, canopies, benches, and windscreens, the brand new station will also include new sidewalks, landscaping, stairways, lighting, communications systems, and structures for maintenance and bus operations personnel. The project also includes the demolition of the existing Chelsea Station, upgrades to railroad signal systems, and new traffic signal system installations at local intersections.

The project to construct and relocate Chelsea Station aims to relieve traffic congestion and overcrowding on existing area bus routes in Chelsea while also providing better transit options to environmental justice populations through improved accessibility to employment opportunities in downtown Boston and the Seaport district.

The project also includes the installation of transit signal priority improvements for the SL3-Chelsea along with improved operational efficiency and the incorporation of green operations elements at the new Chelsea Station. Greenhouse gas emissions will also be reduced by increasing the transit mode share and decreasing the idle time of commuter rail and BRT vehicles.

The Chelsea Commuter Rail Station Project was advertised in February 2019 with bids open in April 2019. After six bids were received, the Chelsea Commuter Rail Station contract was awarded to A.A. Will Corporation for $32,367,200.

Construction could start as early as this summer, with project completion estimated for late 2021.

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Chelsea Walk Pub Hit With Long Suspension

After viewing multiple surveillance videos of patrons falling off stools, being overserved, urinating in public, getting groped, and laid out on the sidewalk by the front door after closing time, the Licensing Commission last week suspended the Chelsea Walk Pub’s liquor license for 10 weeks.

The attorney for the Pub argued that the Broadway bar has avoided violations in the past. But for Commission members, the multiple incidents brought before it at its April 3 meeting were serious enough to warrant the harsh judgment.

The Licensing Commission found the Chelsea Walk Pub violated City ordinances by overserving patrons, selling liquor to an intoxicated person, creating a noise or disorderly disturbance, and failing to provide video surveillance. The majority of the violations resulted from incidents responded to by the Police Department late last November.

In a letter to the Licensing Commission, City Manager Thomas Ambrosino urged the commission not to take the reported violations lightly.

“A liquor license is a privilege and not a right,” the City Manager stated.

The majority of the April 3 hearing revolved around the showing of video surveillance footage from a number of the incidents.

Police highlighted one patron at the end of the bar who had three drinks in front of him before stashing an unopened beer in his jacket while the bartender wasn’t looking.

Meanwhile, police pointed out that at the other end of the bar, a woman sat with two pitchers of beer in front of her with no one else drinking from the mugs. In addition, the video showed the woman encouraging another patron to put his hand down her shirt and grope her breast.

Police Captain Keith Houghton said both incidents violated the city alcohol serving ordinances.

Attorney Jeffrey Rosario Turco, representing the Pub, put up a defense to the evidence, noting several times that the patrons who were alleged to have been overserved seemed steady on their feet and not intoxicated.

“With all due respect, that woman allowed a man to go down her shirt with two pitchers of beer in front of her,” said City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher. “There are implications all over the place.”

Additional video and evidence showed a patron leaving the bar and urinating outside on the sidewalk and a patron weaving into the street before being spotted by a police officer.

Licensing Commission member Roseann Bongiovanni was unmoved by Turco’s “not swaying” defense when it came to video of one patron who left the bar then went back in after being allegedly overserved.

“He’s leaning up against the way, that’s why he’s not swaying,” said Bongiovanni. “That’s some good evidence you have there.”

Most damning was an incident that showed several patrons and a bartender struggling for nearly 10 minutes to carry an alleged intoxicated patron out the door after closing time. Once the man was laid on the sidewalk, the bartender went back inside and locked the front door of the bar.

“The bartender quickly closed the door and leaves him out flat, leaving him pretty much to us,” said Houghton.

Turco did not dispute the evidence in that incident, but said that the bartender in the video had been fired.

Chelsea Walk Pub owner Angela Palmieri said the main problem has been that her staff has not stepped up.

“They don’t listen to what I tell them to do,” she said.

While the Pub hasn’t come before the Licensing Commission in recent memory for violation, Bongiovanni said it has largely been because there weren’t City resources to police the establishment before. She said the Chelsea Walk Pub has a long history of shenanigans.

“There have been so many instances at the Chelsea Walk Pub,” she said. “These are just the ones you got caught for; it is a disgrace to the city.”

In addition to the 10-week liquor license suspension, the Licensing Commission also voted to reduce the bar’s operating hours from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. to noon to 10 p.m.

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School Committee Passes Budget Without Majority

School Committee Passes Budget Without Majority

The School Committee passed a $95.4 million School Budget last week, but it was passed with less than a majority of the total number of nine committee seats.

The budget, which passed with a $1.9 million funding gap that led to the elimination of 10 teaching positions, was approved by a 4-2 vote.

School Committee members Rosemarie Carlisle and Frank DePatto voted against the budget, while board member Jeanette Velez and Chair Richard Maronski recused themselves from the vote, citing relatives who work for the School Department. Last week, Julio Hernandez resigned from the Committee and his seat has yet to be filled.

School Committee members and administrators said it has been a long struggle to present a budget that attempts to meet the needs of the Chelsea schools.

Supt. Mary Bourque and City Manager Thomas Ambrosino were among those who noted that falling enrollments in the Chelsea schools, as well as an antiquated state funding formula that underfunds urban communities such as Chelsea, were the main culprits in the budget cuts.

“I’ve spent a lot of the time with the superintendent trying to provide city support for the budget,” said Ambrosino. “The City is really trying to do its fair share.”

That included the City providing an additional $1.5 million to the schools to address budget shortfalls.

“Every new tax dollar I can raise in Fiscal Year 2020 is going to the School Department,” said the city manager.

Regardless of how the School Committee ended up voting on the budget, Ambrosino said the $95.5 million figure is the figure he would present to the City Council as the school share of the overall City Budget.

“The budget (Bourque) presented is fair and reasonable,” said Ambrosino.

Once the budget is approved, Ambrosino said attention should be turned towards advocating for change to the Chapter 70 state education funding formula on Beacon Hill.

Bourque said she agreed that the time is now to fix the state funding formula, noting that Chelsea schools will be underfunded $17 million by the state.

The other factor leading to cuts in the budget is falling enrollment, Bourque said. Between January of 2018 and January of this year, she said Chelsea schools have lost 217 students. That is part of a larger trend of falling enrollment over nearly a decade, according to the superintendent.

Carlisle voted against the proposed budget, but said the problem with the $95.4 million figure laid not with the City, but with the state.

“The problem is with the state,” said Carlisle. “They are not doing the right thing, and we have to send them a message.”

School Committee member Ana Hernandez backed the budget, but said it wasn’t a decision made lightly.

“The votes we make are very hard,” she said. “This budget is what we dread every year. We have to make a decision for the best of the entire school system.”

But for DePatto, further cuts to teaching positions was a bridge too far to support the FY ‘20 budget. He said the schools laid off seven teachers in 2017, 20 in 2018, 10 in 2019, and have projected another 10 for 2020.

“Forty seven teachers and 25 paraprofessionals,” he said. “When is it going to stop? I can’t vote for this budget (when) I don’t support these cuts.”

School Committee member Yessenia Alfaro-Alvarez voted in support of the budget, stating that it was in the best interest of the City’s students to pass the budget, and also noting that Chelsea is hamstrung by declining enrollments and inequities in the state funding formula.

•In other business, the Committee voted to forgo School Choice for the 2019-20 school year.

•The School Committee also approved a field trip to New York City for high school and middle school REACH students to participate in the Andover Bread Loaf Writing Conference in May.

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A Lot of Noise but Little Action on Planes at Council

A Lot of Noise but Little Action on Planes at Council

For as long as jets have rumbled over Chelsea as they land at and depart from Logan Airport, City officials have struggled with getting state and federal officials to help mitigate the noise from that air traffic.

Monday night, District 6 City Councillor Giovanni Recupero introduced an order asking City Manager Tom Ambrosino to look at renegotiating a deal with Massport to bring back the window and soundproofing program to the city.

“People deserve a little more consideration than they have been given,” said Recupero.

The Councillor said he would like to see Massport provide soundproof windows for residents suffering excessive noise from plane traffic, as it has done in the past.

“I’d like to get them back to the table and figure out a way to help with the problem,” Recupero said.

Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda said he appreciated Recupero’s efforts to get Massport back to the table to discuss sound mitigation, but that he didn’t have high hopes that it would be successful.

“Whenever the City Manager has approached Massport, the answer has been that it is a nonstarter; they have done their program,” said Avellaneda.

Avellaneda said he has been working with City Manager Tom Ambrosino to find a company to undertake an independent sound study of noise from the airport. But, he said it has been very difficult to find a company qualified to do that study.

If a company is found that can perform an independent sound study, Avellaneda said he hopes it has the support of his fellow councillors.

On the positive side, Avellaneda said he attended a recent Massport meeting with airport communities in which officials stated that a new Massport sound study is underway. He said this study will take into account items that a study released in 2017 did not take into account, such as the impact of hills on sound and the resonating sound of airplanes.

The 2017 study was conducted by the Center for Research on Environmental and Social Stressors in Housing Across the Life Course (CRESSH), which is a division of the BU School of Public Health.

That report showed that flights over Chelsea have nearly doubled between 2011 and 2015, and that certain health effects associated with airplane noise are very high in Chelsea.

But getting Massport to kick in for additional noise mitigation efforts has been an uphill battle.

“Confronted with the increase in air traffic, their response has been, ‘But our planes are quieter,’” said Avellaneda.

The Councillor has been pushing for the independent noise study since at least the time the 2017 airport noise study was unveiled.

“We (can) do a real noise study with proper equipment and prepare to say we have proof that our community is impacted and possibly prepare to embark on a lawsuit against MassPort and the FAA,” he said at the time.

•In other business, the Council unanimously approved sending a home rule petition to the state legislature that will allow for the construction of the new Innes Housing Development.

•Recupero introduced an order asking the City Manager look into hiring another animal control officer for the purpose of issuing fines to people that don’t clean up after their dogs.

•Councillor-At-Large Leo Robinson introduced orders asking the City Manager for updates on the City’s master plan and the status of the Salvation Army building on Broadway. The Council approved taking the building by eminent domain in 2017.

•District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop was absent from Monday night’s meeting, but with good reason. He was celebrating his 35th anniversary with his wife. Happy anniversary to the Bishops.

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Exhibit by Chelsea Hunger Network Features Work of Community Groups City-wide

Exhibit by Chelsea Hunger Network Features Work of Community Groups City-wide

An exhibit by the Chelsea Hunger Network is now installed at Gallery 456 and will remain until the day of its community fundraising event on April 18, the 8th Annual Chelsea Empty Bowls.

Since September of 2018, 19 groups have convened over 300 “community artists” in Chelsea to paint a variety of ceramic bowls and mugs. A selection of these colorful pieces of practical art, all fired in the kilns of Salem State’s Art + Design department, are now on display in the gallery. Next to the exhibit of the decorated ceramics, a collage depicts various artists showing off their work as well as groups and individuals at work. Many photographed are widely recognized community figures including Chelsea’s City Manager, Tom Ambrosino.

Another section of the gallery displays large color posters revealing the identity of the 19 participating groups and gives additional background on the Chelsea Hunger Network. An infographic outlines the contributing factors leading to an increase in food insecurity and hunger in our community.

The 8th Annual Chelsea Empty Bowls event will take place on April 18, from 5-7 p.m. at the Williams School at 180 Walnut St. Choose one of the hundreds of bowls and mugs and serve yourself from an all-you-can-eat menu of delicious clam chowder, chili, soups, and Toscanini’s ice cream. Tickets are $20 ($25 at the door) and can be purchased online at www.eventbrite.com under “Chelsea Empty Bowls”. Children under 8 years old are free.

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Broadway Affordable Housing Project Back Before ZBA

Broadway Affordable Housing Project Back Before ZBA

A revised affordable housing development at the corner of Broadway and Clinton Street is back before City boards, and now it features fewer units with all at affordable rates.

Late last year, the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) narrowly denied the 42 unit affordable- and market-rate residential development at 1001 Broadway (Midas site) in a vote that was based on creating more homeownership opportunities in the City. The project included nine units of market-rate housing and enhanced access to the Mill Creek waterfront.

The Suffolk County Land Court remanded the controversial Zoning Board affordable housing denial on Broadway back to the ZBA with a revised plan.

Monday night, the revised version of the development, a partnership between the Traggorth Companies and The Neighborhood Developers (TND), was back before the ZBA. The revised plan is an attempt to address the concerns of the board and neighbors, according to Dave Traggorth of the Traggorth Companies.

“Our goals have not changed,” said Traggorth. “It is to create affordable homes for Chelsea residents and to provide public access to Mill Creek.”

The major revisions to the proposed $15 million project include cutting the total number of units from 42 to 38, making all the units affordable, and eliminating the fifth story of the building that had been proposed for the Broadway side of the development.

The commercial space on the first floor in the initial proposal has also been eliminated.

“We have reviewed the plans based on the ZBA recommendations, and the commercial space will now be a community room,” Traggorth said.

The project needs special permits due to a slightly larger than allowed lot coverage, and for not meeting City parking requirements. The Broadway housing will have 42 parking spots, where 52 are required by the city.

Thirty one of those parking spaces will be available for the public to access Mill Creek from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. In addition, Traggorth said the developers will give the city $15,000 for intersection improvements in the area.

With the decrease in units and the elimination of the commercial space, TND Project Manager Steve Laferriere said there will be less of an impact on parking in traffic in the area than the initial proposal.

District 3 City Councillor Joe Perlatonda, who represents the area where the affordable housing will be built, said he is still opposed to the project, citing a burst of recent development in the city that will increase parking and traffic.

Perlatonda said the parking and traffic issues around Broadway and Clinton Street are already a nightmare for neighbors, and that the Traggorth/TND project will only make it worse. He said the City should take a look at other uses for the property, such as a new public library on Mill Creek.

But the majority of people who spoke during the public hearing said they supported the creation of sorely needed new affordable units in Chelsea, and praised the efforts TND has already made to create safe and modern affordable units in the city. A recent affordable housing lottery in the city saw more than 3,000 applicants for 34 units, with more than 1,200 of those applications coming from Chelsea residents.

“There is a clear need for affordable housing as rents continue to go up in the Chelsea area,” said resident Sandy Maynard.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he continues to support the TND/Traggorth partnership.

“The number one complaint I receive as City Manager from residents is the lack of affordable housing,” said Ambrosino.

Ambrosino said he understands the concerns about traffic and parking, but said the impacts of any project has to be weighed against the benefits, and that the benefits of affordable housing at Broadway and Clinton tip the scales in favor of the project.

While state law prohibits the developers from offering the affordable units to Chelsea residents only, the developers said they would work to make sure the maximum units allowable are for Chelsea residents. The Planning Board will take up the project at its March 26 meeting, and then it will come back to the ZBA at its April 9 meeting for a possible vote, according to ZBA Chair Janice Tatarka.

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Council Calls for Administration to Draft Strategies in Lieu of Parking Study

Council Calls for Administration to Draft Strategies in Lieu of Parking Study

The City Council has asked that City Manager Tom Ambrosino use the next month to figure out some new parking strategies for the city instead of spending a hefty sum on a major Parking Study.

Ambrosino said the Council had instructed him to put out a bid for a parking study late last year, but there was only one bidder on the project. That bid did not include the whole city and was more than $200,000.

On Monday, the Council held a Committee meeting to discuss the next steps, steps that don’t include spending such a sum on a study.

“The Council at the end of the meeting on Monday wanted to explore the idea of internal remediation before proceeding with an expensive outside study,” he said.

Ambrosino said he and his administration will spend the next month “brainstorming” some ideas and recommendations to help with the parking bottleneck in many areas of the City – including the neighborhoods.

Ambrosino said they do see it as a problem in several aspects of the city.

“There’s no question it’s a problem in the city,” he said. “There are way too many cars and not enough parking spaces. There is no simple solution to that problem. Long-time, we do have an agreement as part of the Tobin Bridge Viaduct project to add 135 spaces only a short walk from downtown. That might help a little bit, but that’s three years away.”

One solution he will not suggest is to reduce parking requirements for new development. While many might think that is counter to solving a parking problem, many planners now believe that one solution to reducing the numbers of cars is to build developments without parking.

That won’t be a solution he suggests again, after having had lower parking requirements rejected by the Council only two years ago. “I don’t see the Council reducing parking any time soon,” he said. “It’s not something I’m going to re-submit.”

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