Published October 2, 2019
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — The recently increased downtown parking enforcement has been “a tremendous success,” Chairman Edward Dombroski said at last week’s Town Council meeting. He said that the stepped-up enforcement in conjunction with increasing downtown parking limits from one hour to two hours and creating designated areas for merchants and employees of downtown businesses has created more parking turnover.
“We are seeing spots open up during peak hours that we didn’t see previously,” he said, adding that he expects a more official report, possibly as soon as the board’s next meeting.
Dombroski admitted that there has been some resistance, mainly from merchants and employees who want to continue parking right in front of their workplaces.
“That’s not good business for them,” he said, noting that he is working with the DPW and Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio to identify additional merchant parking locations.
In other news related to the downtown, Dombroski said that VHB, the town’s consultant for the “Envision Wakefield” downtown revitalization/infrastructure project, will be going to MassDOT in December to present the preliminary design for MassDOT feedback.
Dombroski said that the bike lanes continue to be part of the project with some thought given to shifting them to Crescent Street, although whether the the state would accept that as an alternative remains a question. Even without the bike lanes, Dombroski said that safety issues would preclude angle parking in the middle part of the downtown area under the new design.
He said that more public sessions will be held after the New Year, once VHB gets MassDOT’s feedback. Councilor Jonathan Chines thought that another public session would be useful before the MassDOT visit, but Dombroski didn’t believe there was anything new to discuss until VHB gets answers from MassDOT to some of the currently outstanding questions.
The ongoing feasibility study is expected to result in up to $15 million in state and federal funds for downtown infrastructure improvements.
On yet another downtown-related issue, Dombroski said that he plans to meet with Police Chief Steven Skory and DPW Director Joseph Conway to discuss reconfiguring the downtown benches in such a way as to make them less inviting to groups that have been using them to congregate and sometimes engage in undesirable activities like public drinking.
He also updated the Town Council on the progress of the Public Safety Building Reassessment Committee. He said that the group met on Sept. 18 and is making headway in an effort to come up with a better defined plan for the building deficiencies on the police side of the PSB. A previous plan for an $8 million upgrade to the building passed Town Meeting overwhelmingly but was narrowly defeated in a subsequent election.
Dombroski said that he expects a new proposal for the Public Safety Building to be brought forward at the Annual Town Meeting next spring. A better communication effort is planned, he said, with a subcommittee formed to help get the word out and correct misinformation.
In other business last week, the Town Council:
• Heard from representatives from Wakefield Alliance Against Violence (WAAV) about the Oct. 5 “WAAV Racing to End Domestic Violence” 5K race and walk around Lake Quannapowitt and approved a request for promotional signage placement on town property.
• Voted to transfer $1,000,000 to Debit Service Capital Needs Account.
• Approved a request from Lisa Flashenburg for a one-day liquor license for private event fundraiser at the Wakefield Masonic Building on Oct. 26, 2019.
• Approved a request from Library Director Catherine McDonald to accept and expend $2,873.50 in gifts from various donors.