Monday night, City Councilors rejected a plan that would dramatically impact traffic and parking around the John Silber Early Learning Center on Hawthorne Street.
The recommendations from the Traffic and Parking Commission, based on a request from School Facilities Director Joseph Cooney III, sought to block traffic from Congress Avenue and Hawthorne Street, only allowing bus access to Hawthorne Street during the hours of 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. and to move a school bus lane from Shurtleff Street to Hawthorne Street. Cooney also requested a painted “Buses Only” parking area in front of the school on Hawthorne Street and to change the existing language on the signs to “No Parking, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., School Buses Only.”
Several councillors said they were dismayed by the effect the changes would have for residents in the area, and also said they thought the Council should have had more of a say in the proposed changes.
“Why take away all of the parking for the whole day?” asked District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero. “You can’t just say we are going to do this and this is what it is. What’s going to happen to the people who live there?”
Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda echoed Recupero’s concerns.
“Reading this, it is a major change and there has not been the outreach this deserves,” he said.
Many major details were missing from the proposal, Avellaneda added, including what would happen with parking when school is not in session. He said it would have been preferable if school officials had met with councillors before making the recommendations.
“I know that behind this, the intent is the safety of school children,” Avellaneda said. “But I don’t think this has been fully vetted or thought out.”
- In other business Monday night, the Council unanimously approved spending $170,000 for a turf field cover at the new Chelsea High School field. This cover will allow for outdoor activities on the field, including high school graduation.
For the past several meetings, Chelsea High students have organized and spoken out in favor of the proposal.
With the vote taken, several councillors praised the students for the role they played in making the request a reality.
“I’ve never seen a group impact the Council on an issue as much as you guys,” said District 2 Councillor Luis Tejada. “Keep up the good work and know that this is the way to get things done in life.”
- The Council also approved a request by Council President Damali Vidot to place signs at five locations around the city where Chelsea police officers have been killed in the line of duty over the past 150 years.
- In other parking and traffic related news, District 5 Councillor Judith Garcia announced that Fire Chief Leonard Albanese rescinded a request to change the traffic flow on Chestnut Street.
A petition from St. Stanislaus Church with dozens of signatures stated that the temporary change of direction on the street had been detrimental to the day-to-day business operations of the Parish rectory and created multiple hardships for parishioners and others in the area.