Through a series of procedural votes Tuesday night, selectmen took steps to clean up the town’s oversight of parking for stadium events — and in so doing paved the way for a new commercial lot located just off Route 1.
In addition to formally adopting language which allows the town to condition parking licenses based on site-specific public safety considerations, board members renewed 31 existing commercial parking licenses for the upcoming year.
The partial reboot of parking regulations was prompted by a request from Alicia Santos to license a new 50-space commercial lot adjacent to her residence at 28 Pine St. Located directly behind the Seasonal Specialties plaza and across Pine Street from the Lafayette House restaurant, it remains one of the few residential properties in the town’s S-1 zoning district.
Selectmen had denied Santos’ initial application for a parking license back in 2018, arguing that town regulations required direct sidewalk access for every commercial lot. At the time board members voiced concerns about pedestrians walking along Pine Street to and from stadium events, especially at night.
A subsequent review of commercial parking regulations, which included several meetings with other lot owners, elicited a series of proposed changes suggested by Police Chief William Baker.
These changes, among other things, focus on providing safe passage for pedestrians walking from satellite lots to the stadium complex — as opposed to strictly defining sidewalks as a paved lane adjacent to the roadway — and ultimately gave selectmen the latitude to grant Santos’ request.
Although Selectman David Feldman registered disappointment that the new language omits a clear definition for a sidewalk, he ultimately supported the proposal along with his colleagues.
“I just want to make sure that any changes are fair across the board for everybody,” Selectman Chris Mitchell observed.
Making a final plea for approval, Santos on Tuesday told selectmen she had done everything possible to satisfy their concerns.
“I believe I’ve done my due diligence on this project,” she said.
Conditions attached to her annual license will require Santos to hire a detail officer, install lighting and place traffic cones to establish a pedestrian corridor along Pine Street from her property to existing sidewalks on Route 1.
In addition, vehicles exiting her property after events will be directed to make a left-hand turn on Pine Street, away from foot traffic returning from the Route 1 area.
Selectman Edward O’Leary noted that pre-event traffic arrives over the course of three to four hours, while departing traffic presents a much greater challenge, particularly after dark.
Town Manager William Keegan described the new approach as a consensus between the town, lot owners and other stakeholders.
“The board should have the ability to consider applications based on public issues, and condition licenses on that basis,” he pointed out.
In addition to the 50 spaces granted Santos on Tuesday, the voted to renew 29,060 commercial parking spaces in 31 lots along the Route 1 corridor, most of them included in the Kraft Group’s holdings. The annual licensing fee is $7 per space — $3.50 per space for lots operated for charitable purposes, Keegan said.