Amherst council goes slow on Lincoln Avenue parking ban

  • Amherst Town Hall

Staff Writer
Published: 3/10/2020 10:14:36 PM
Modified: 3/10/2020 10:14:25 PM

AMHERST — A proposal that would remove the last on-street weekday parking from the north section of Lincoln Avenue will be decided on within 90 days.

The Town Council, which received significant oral feedback Monday on the proposed changes, referred the matter to the new Town Services and Outreach subcommittee by a 9-4 vote, with District 2 Councilor Patricia DeAngelis, District 3 Councilor Dorothy Pam, District 4 Councilor Steve Schreiber and District 5 Councilor Darcy DuMont in the minority. The subcommittee will report back in no later than three months.

The heart of the plan includes prohibiting parking weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily on the west side of Lincoln between North Hadley Road and Amity Street, and prohibiting parking on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on much of the east side of Lincoln from Fearing Street to Amity Street.

Department of Public Works Superintendent Guilford Mooring, who presented the plan created by Town Engineer Jason Skeels, said he would endorse removing the parking spaces, which could number as many as 200.

“This is a road I would not put parking on,” Mooring said. “It’s too narrow.”

He also noted that the street, which has a lot of traffic to and from the University of Massachusetts, was not built as a commuter road.

Mooring said parking is believed to be mostly by graduate students affiliated with UMass. “These people are parking consistently five days a week,” Mooring said.

Mooring also said there may be minimal safety issues associated with the parking, pointing to a traffic count done earlier in March showing the street handles just 1,960 vehicles per day, about 1,000 fewer than the nearly 3,000 who drove on the road daily in 2005. Since that time, the town has installed speed bumps and taken other measures to calm traffic.

There were 29 crashes on Lincoln from 2016 to 2018, with 12 of these between Elm and McClellan streets.

Whether a decision can be made for just Lincoln was a matter of contention.

DeAngelis said she is concerned about taking parking away on a public street. “I’m really wrestling with special treatment,” DeAngelis said.

Schreiber said the council needs more of a guideline about what the expectation is for town streets, while At Large Councilor Andy Steinberg said making a decision in isolation from other streets would be problematic.

At Large Councilor Mandi Jo Hanneke said she is struggling with why Lincoln has a safety issue that other streets don’t have.

If the Town Council is interested in a comprehensive study of parking on all town streets, Town Manager Paul Bockelman said Tuesday, that would be time consuming, but doable.

David Sloviter of 194 Lincoln, who spearheaded a petition for parking changes, said his neighborhood is not seeking special treatment, but that the street’s narrowness and volume of traffic make it unique.

Nancy Gilbert of 166 Lincoln said parked vehicles can make it difficult to pull out of driveways and told the council she was nearly struck on her lawn by a vehicle that had to “kiss the curb.”

Ambulances may be slowed to emergencies due to the parked vehicles, said Frank Meyers of 226 Lincoln. “When it happens, it’s going to take lives,” Meyers said.

Susan Krause of 163 Lincoln said it’s not a good idea to displace the problems in her neighborhood onto other streets, and that she feared the parked vehicles may migrate to Sunset Avenue, a few hundred feet away.

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