Overnight parking sign

The Select Board has made several decisions that may positively affect the community. On June 10, it extended the overnight parking pilot program, approved a request to remove invasive plant species at a specific location, endorsed the Mothers Out Front group's clean-heat petition and appointed and reappointed numerous residents to various boards.

At a meeting nearly a year ago -- June 26, 2023 -- the board approved a five-month pilot for temporary expanded on-street overnight parking for Arlington residents. The townwide pilot was limited to 125 new permits and was extended another six months in December, according to the town’s website. Those with such permits are able to park overnight on public streets, something that otherwise is not allowed.

This month, board member Lenard Diggins presented the analysis from the pilot, showing that 70 permits were used during the first part of the trial and that 76 permits were used during the second part. He recommended extending the trial for another 12 months or even making it permanent. 

After deliberation, the board decided to extend the pilot program for another 12 months -- and the number of permits was increased to 150, with the fee being $1 per day. 

“I think the parking pilot has been a success,” said board member John Hurd. “We created this for people that had the need … it makes it easier for people.” 

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Hurd added that the numbers show that there is not an overwhelming demand for these parking permits and that therefore extending the pilot likely will not cause a large increase in cars parked overnight on public streets.

Approved letter of support for clean-energy campaign 

In a 2-0-1 vote, with Diane Mahon and Hurd approving and Diggins abstaining, the board approved the requested Mothers Out Front letter of support for the Future of Clean Heat Bill and the memorandum on gas system expansion.

Board Chair Stephen DeCourcey and member Eric Helmuth recused themselves from both the deliberation and the vote.

The letter is to be sent to Arlington's local delegation to the State House: Sen. Cindy Friedman and state Reps, Sean Garballey and Dave Rogers. 

Mothers Out Front is a nationwide volunteer organization -- based next door to Arlington, in Cambridge -- concerned with coping with the effects of climate change. Two local members, Anne Wright and Ann Boland, presented the issue and letter to the board. 

“We at Mothers Out Front are fighting for a livable climate for our children, our grandchildren and all children,” said Boland. “We also know that Arlington is committed to transitioning to net zero [carbon footprint] -- transitioning off of the gas system.” 

The Future of Clean Heat Bill is intended to prioritize gas line repair rather than replacement, limit gas cost recovery, require gas companies to submit transition plans to the Department of Public Utilities, incentivize investments in cleaner energy and allow gas utilities to provide thermal heat instead of gas. 

After much discussion, Diggins decided to abstain, explaining that he did not want the board to be asked to support something in support of another group. 

“It isn’t the number of letters [from residents] I get… or how loudly they ask for it. I look at the argument, and I assess that argument, and I weigh it against the arguments against it,” said Diggins. He further said that he thinks leaders do the same and make decisions based on whether they think it’s the right thing to do based on the values they were elected for. 

“I support what you're doing in terms of what this legislation is trying to achieve, but I also am going to say that I trust the people [in state government] that I elected,” said Diggins. 

After Diggins finished speaking, Boland added that while Arlington obviously wishes to meet its net zero goal, in her view the town will not be able to do so without strong state laws as well. 

Gave permission to remove some plants  

The board approved a request to remove invasive species via the town’s Pink Plants Program, albeit on a more limited basis than requested. The program is led by the Department of Planning and Community Development; volunteers mark invasive plants with eco-friendly pink paint, transforming them into easily identifiable targets for removal, according to the memorandum presented. 

The specific request was for removal of invasive species at Rublee Street, Lancaster Road and Herbert Road, which is owned by the Select Board. Invasive plants there include black-swallow wort and garlic mustard. 

The memo also asks for permission to do likewise on any Select Board-controlled properties but not for the Town Gardens between Town Hall and the Robbins Library nor for any formal gardens owned by the town. 

“When speaking with [David Morgan, the town's environmental planner] about this, it was largely about there being a very narrowly tailored window for when you can truly be effective with the removals,” said Town Manager Jim Feeney, emphasizing that hesitation could possibly put efforts a year behind while invasive species continue to flourish. 

In response, Helmuth moved to agree to the removal at the specific site immediately and to then consider a larger list of sites at the next Select Board meeting; this was unanimously approved by the Board. 

Approved dozens of appointments, reappointments 

The board approved reappointments to 11 committees, boards or organizations:

  • Thomas Formicola to the Arlington Arts and Culture Commission;
  • Michael Rademacher to the Arlington Disability Commission; 
  • Wayne Parseghian as a constable until June 30, 2027; in Massachusetts, a constable is a specialized sworn-in law-enforcement agent who serves civil and sometimes criminal processes;
  • Susan Doctrow and David Swanson to the CPA Committee; 
  • Lesley Chung and Andrea Haas to Equal Opportunity Advisory; 
  • Heather Calvin as Library Board Trustee; 
  • Brian McBride to the Open Space Committee; 
  • Jennifer Rothenberg, Sarah Carrier and Scott Walker to the Park & Recreation Committee; 
  • Sheila Rawson and Andrea Haas to the Human Resource Board; 
  • William Hayner, Les Banks and John Fitzpatrick to the Veterans Council; and
  • Caroline Murray and Jagat Adhiya to the Envision Arlington Standing Committee. 

The board approved appointments to two other organizations: 

  • Jackie Anderson to the Tree Committee; and
  • Fabienne Bain, Janet Marsden, Naresh Kachoria, Kaitlin Sheedy, Maggie Yuan and Veronica Tivnan to the Youth Counseling Center Advisory Board. 

The board expressed gratitude to these residents for their willingness to serve. Mahon added that the six appointees to the Youth Counseling Center Advisory Board are a “well-rounded group.” 

In other business, the board: 
  • Approved minutes of the May 20 Select Board meeting;
  • Approved a request for Contractor/Drainlayer Licenses for Jet Excavation, Power Paving and Construction, B.G. Construction and Bay State Piping; 
  • Approved a request for a special (one-day) beer and wine license for a private event at Robbins Memorial Town Hall on June 22; 
  • Approved a request for a special (one-day) beer and wine license for a private event at Robbins Memorial Town Hall on June 23; 
  • Approved a request for a special (one-day) beer and wine license for a private event at Whittemore Robbins House on June 29; 
  • Approved a housing family fund-raiser hosted by high schooler Asra Nourollahi, to take place June 15 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Whittemore Park; 
  • Approved a request from resident Jim Ballin for an additional on-street overnight parking waiver; 
  • Unanimously voted to approve Traffic Advisory Committee’s reccomendations to add an additional stop sign at the six-way intersection at Appleton Street, add “all way” plaques under the each stop sign, add a ‘stop ahead’ sign before the new stop sign and add a stop line painted in the road before the new stop sign. The streets are Appleton Street, Wachusett Avenue, Dow Avenue, Valentine Road;Wachusett and Appleton each have two approaches to the intersection. Appleton Street’s eastbound approach is the one that at this point does not have a stop sign;
  • Approved future Select Board meetings to be scheduled for July 12 and Aug 19; and
  • Heard from residents in an open forum, one of whom discussed the dangers of brick sidewalks in Arlington and others who expressed their support for the overnight parking pilot program's continued existence.
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This news summary by freelance writer Jessie Castellano was published Sunday, June 16, 2024.