The second public hearing on City Council bill 12-0125, which could change or revoke Canton’s Residential Permit Parking Area 43, was held Nov. 3 at 10 a.m. at the United Evangelical Church on 3200 Dillon St.
The hearing, actually an official City Council meeting, was held in the church itself and moderated by City Councilman Jim Kraft. City Councilman Bill Cole, representing the 11th district, and City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, representing the 14th district, also attended.
Representatives from the City’s Parking Authority, the president of the City Council’s office, and the Mayor’s office were also present.
About 50 City residents and business owners attended the hearing and approximately 20 signed up to present testimony about one or both of the City Council bills being heard. (Council bill 12-0102, which concerns residential permit parking throughout the City, was also being heard.)
Many of those who testified about Bill 12-0125 had decidedly mixed feelings about continuing Canton’s Area 43 in its current form.
“I’d like to see Area 43 extended. As it is now, it gives some residents a benefit and others none at all,” said Justin Eve, who says he lives on the wrong side of Area 43.
A fair number of attendees were ambivalent and said that they would like Area 43 to either be extended to include more of Canton, or revoked.
“Either get rid of it, or make it fair for everybody,” said Stephanie Fleishman, who has lived in Canton since the late 1980s and owns 2910 on the Square, a gift boutique on O’Donnell St.
John Gustin, whose family has lived in Canton for years, said he’s opposed to renewal of Area 43.
“Canton has had parking problems since I was a kid. When you buy a house in Canton, you know you need to buy a house with a parking pad or deal with [parking problems.]”
Gustin offered his own ideas on how to remedy Canton’s parking problems without Area 43.
“More angle parking is a good idea, but that should have been put in place years ago. I’d also like to get rid of some of the MTA bus stops. In Canton,
I think we have too many for the number of people taking the bus. Someone in the City should do a study on [bus stops and ridership],” Gustin said.
Gustin added that he would also like to see Johns Hopkins Hospital extend its employee shuttle, which goes as far as Butchers Hill, to include Canton.
“We will look into contacting Hopkins,” said Kraft.
Councilman Kraft took an informal poll of the hearing attendees asking whether, given the option, they would like to see Area 43 extended to include all of Canton.
A fair number of attendees raised their hands.
Victor Corbin, president of the Fells Prospect Community Association (FPCA), was not one of them.
“The Fells Prospect Community Association opposes any expansion of Area 43 and feels that it should be revoked,” Corbin said.
Corbin said that the association also submitted a letter of opposition to the City Council.
Other attendees said their feelings toward Area 43 have evolved over time.
Debbi Gable, who lives on Port St. and says she is the leader of a citizens’ group informally known as the Area 43 Expansion Group, says that as it stands now, Area 43 is “a gated community without a gate.”
“My initial reaction when Area 43 was first created was that it should be eliminated,” Gable explained. “But over time, I saw that the problem is not the patrons of The Can Company stores and restaurants. The problem is employees of the Can Company who park long term. Some of these employees are parking 8 a.m. – 10 p.m., “ Gable said.
Now, Gable feels that Area 43 “should be extended as much as Canton residents want it to be.”
Gable offers up her own solution to Area 43’s parking dilemma.
“I’d like to see the Can Company obtain a lot for its employees’ cars and run a shuttle,” she said.
Maybe The Can Company would pay for the total cost. Maybe the employees would have to pay part of it, she speculated.
“If you work downtown, you pay to park,” she says.
Gable concedes that even if a Canton Company shuttle was put in place, there will always be parking challenges in the city.
“You’re going to be competing with your neighbors for parking spaces. That’s part of city life. There’re no happy endings here.”
by Danielle Sweeney