Are we ready to think differently about the Roslindale Municipal Lot?

MEETING DATE/TIME/PLACE: Thursday, September 26, 2019, 6:30 pm @ Roslindale Community Center, 6 Cummins Highway, Roslindale (accessible by foot, bike, MBTA Needham Line, several bus routes, Bluebikes, and by car).

As part of the city’s Housing with Public Assets initiative, our city’s Housing Innovation Lab, along with the Office of New Urban Mechanics and the Department of Neighborhood Development, are hosting the initial public meeting on the potential redevelopment of the municipal lot behind the row of stores on South Street between Taft Hill Terrace and the Needham Line tracks. The Housing with Public Assets initiative began in 2018 with an open request for information on how the city could improve its core assets citywide quickly and efficiently. This included an inventory of libraries, fire stations, community centers, and vehicle storage lots such as the Roslindale Municipal Lot. At the same time, the city also indicated that it specifically cared about housing at these locations, meaning that they were about “integrating deeply and moderately affordable units with market-rate units.” To be candid, we think this idea has legs here in Roslindale, even to the point where we submitted a comment letter about this very location as part of the process back in April 2018. We now look forward eagerly to learning more about how the city is thinking about moving forward with generating new housing opportunities by leveraging a significant, underutilized public asset in the heart of our neighborhood, and how community input can help steer their efforts.

It’s our understanding that the project seeks to preserve much if not all of the existing public parking. In anticipation of discussions about the parking impact of this development, WalkUP Roslindale volunteers recently collected snapshots of data on several different times and days. The data show the following:

  • There are 84 general spaces, four handicap spaces and two ZipCar spaces.
  • At every visit there were always general spaces available for more cars to park.
  • On average over 28 spaces were available; the fewest number of spaces ever available for general parking was three (twice), the maximum during weekday business hours was 64 (once).
  • Only six times (~ 7%) were there fewer than 10 general spaces available.
  • Not infrequently (23 out of 83 times, or ~28%) all handicapped spaces were filled, suggesting that the lot would benefit from more spaces being reserved for handicap plates.
  • We did not yet measure turn-over of the spaces, but anecdotally we frequently observed some spaces filled all or most of the day by the same vehicles. We are certain that if the two-hour parking limit was actively enforced and if parking was metered (so that it was accurately not priced as a free resource), the number of available spaces for patrons of local businesses would increase.

While of course our study is not fully comprehensive, we think it’s a good start to have some data as we go into this process.

12 thoughts to “Are we ready to think differently about the Roslindale Municipal Lot?”

  1. There’s no parking in the square now! What let’s throw up some more housing ,but we can all feel good because 2 or of the 25 are below market rate.
    The stupidest idea I’ve heard in awhile, love to know what the small business think about losing more parking.

  2. From what I understand, the city’s program splits the housing affordability levels into thirds. So if the redevelopment were, just to pick round numbers, 60 units, it would be 20 deeply affordable, 20 moderately affordable, and 20 market rate. I expect we’ll hear more on this at the meeting. I also expect that the approach here will look to keep roughly the same number of spaces in the municipal lot as there are now.

  3. What does “there is no parking in the Square” mean? The times I’ve driven down, I’ve ever easily found a spot in the municipal lot or on-street fairly close to my intended destination. That applies pretty much any time of day, except maybe during a handful of annual special events like the Tree Lighting which are publicized in advance.

  4. i think parking is pretty tight in the square and even if they keep some of the spaces wouldn’t they be taken by the new residents? Sorry I was working and couldn’t make the meeting — Would like to know more about this.

  5. One thing that should be followed up on: on weekends and holidays we have a sizable commuter parking lot that is minimally used as a commuter lot. It could be much better utilized.

    1. I think Bill is referring to the MBTA commuter rail lot(s) here. If so, I completely agree. They are pretty empty at night and on weekends. Lots of opportunity there. The lower MBTA lot rarely is close to full during a weekday even.

  6. Who is the incompetent Roslindale implant that did the traffic study at that parking lot? Obviously somebody with an agenda. Probably somebody with a bunch Of accomplishments, that they want to post about themselves in their bio. In reality getting a parking spot up there during the day is very difficult. SMH

  7. Any business district needs multiple free parking lots, big enough to ensure that there will be easy to find spots open for anyone who wants to drive to the district. The Roslindale Square business district has the perception of having bad traffic and no parking, so many folks who might be inclined to come here instead go to West Roxbury or elsewhere. For example, I know people who go to the West Roxbury Library instead of Roslindale, solely for parking issues. Since I moved to Roslindale in 2002, Main Streets has been continually pushing their supposed fact that there is plenty of parking in the Square, but what matters is the perception of whether its easy to park at the square. Roslindale had the chance to add some easy-to-see, central parking in the square, but chose to benefit developers profits instead. The perception of Abundant Parking is the business district’s biggest problem, especially if it is to attract folks from farther afield to come shop, eat, stroll, etc. Today, despite what Main Streets claims, Roslindale Square is barely more than a local shopping district.

    1. Fully disagree with every assertion made in this comment. Business districts do not need “multiple free parking lots” to survive. That there are dozens of business districts doing just fine with limited parking just in the part of greater Boston within the 128/95 belt disproves this assertion. What business districts actually need is as many ways as possible for as many people as possible to reach them. Encouraging more people to come to the square by car, which is what more car storage spaces would do, only increases vehicular emissions (with both local air quality and broader global climate change impacts) and makes our streets and public spaces less safe and attractive. I’m committed to finding ways to make the square safer and more accessible and attractive to people who want to reach it by walking, cycling, and taking transit. Finally, I’m guessing that the reference to having a chance to “add some easy-to-see, central parking in the square” is to the redevelopment of the former gas station/funeral home/substation property as multifamily housing and community gathering space instead of surface car storage, so, again, not something I would ever agree with this commenter on.

      1. I total disagree with you Mr. Lawlor and also your fellow anti car zealots. Roslindale has a very large population of older citizens, myself one of them. Who have work our lives to be able to afford a car to go to places to shop and enjoy the variety of shops, services and stores that Roslindale and the square afford us. At 65 years of age I’m not going to ride a bike or get on the T with a cane to go and get a hair cut or pick up food to take home, or do some other shopping. I’m going to get in my car drive to the square park fairly close to where I want to go do my business and then return home with my local purchases in the back seat of my car. not on a bike or in some paper bag on a bus that doesn’t even go close to my home. You know sometimes is is OK to leave a thing the way it is like a Square a village a place, not everything needs to be updated and changed.

        1. A lot going on in this comment. Suffice it to say here that I’m not expecting someone exhibiting this level of commitment to driving to change their habits. Instead, the improvements I’m advocating for are aimed at people who’d prefer not to drive, but currently find it too unsafe or too inconvenient or too uncomfortable to walk, bike, or take transit. This is a group of people that includes seniors, young people, parents with children, and everyone in between. In my view, our city’s long-standing policy preference for travel by car has created a current situation that can’t be left the way it is for a great many reasons, ranging from improving public health and air quality, to mitigating the climate crisis and improving access to the square for everyone. We have made some recent progress, but we still have a long way to go to repair the damage that an over-reliance on travel by car has done to our city and our neighborhood.

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