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Businesses object to new Route 66 bus stops in Brookline

Posted by Brock Parker  October 4, 2013 12:27 PM

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Owners of The Butcherie and Rubin's delicatessen in Brookline are objecting to newly relocated bus stops in front of their Harvard Street businesses. Photo by Brock Parker.

Transportation officials in Brookline have turned away owners of two kosher businesses on Harvard Street who say bus stops that have been relocated in front of their businesses don’t have their approval.

Owners of The Butcherie, a kosher grocery store, and Rubin’s, a kosher delicatessen, complained to Brookline’s Transportation Board Thursday night that the Route 66 buses shifted in front of their businesses last month need to be moved somewhere else.

Walter Gelerman, the co-owner of The Butcherie in Brookline’s JFK Crossing neighborhood, said the bus stop relocated in front of his store has replaced several parking spots used by customers carrying heavy bags. He said his delivery trucks also can’t park in front of the store anymore because they would block the buses.

“This bus location will cause us harm,” Gelerman told Brookline” Gelerman said.

But in two separate votes, Brookline’s Transportation Board voted not to move the newly relocated bus stops, saying the stops in front of The Butcherie and Rubin’s were part of a multi-year planning effort which began in 2009 and included more than 20 public meetings to gather public comment.

The MBTA worked with the town to relocated and do away with some stops for the Route 66 bus in an effort to make the heavily-used bus line faster and more reliable through the town. Similar efforts were made in other communities for the 66 bus and 14 other key bus routes and the work was funded by federal stimulus and transportation money.

Todd Kirrane, the town’s transportation administrator, said the Route 66 bus stops on Harvard Street that were being questioned Thursday were shifted to increase the safety for riders as they depart a bus, as well as to relieve traffic congestion by enabling cars to get around buses as they pull over to stop. Kirrane said the stops were also shifted to help improve the distance between two former bus stops that were consolidated into one new stop.

But Alan Gellerman, owner of Rubin’s at 500 Harvard St., said he had no idea that a bus stop near the Harvard Street intersection with Verndale Street was going to be shifted in front of his store and in front of a new patio at his deli.

“I would never agree to something like that,” Gellerman said.

Now Gellerman said anyone sitting in the patio has to deal with exhaust from the buses while they eat, and people waiting for the bus are now constantly coming in to his restaurant wanting to use the restroom.

Stanley Rabinovitz, a Town Meeting member from the area, asked that the bus stop in front of The Butcherie be moved because the town needs to do something to try and help establishments like the grocery store that draw business into JFK Crossing.

The neighborhood was named after Pressident John F. Kennedy, who was born nearby, and Rabinovitz guessed what the former president would ask of the Transportation Board.

“I know what he would have said: ‘Ask not what you can do for me, but ask what you can do for the Butcherie,' ” Rabinovitz said.

But Transportation Board members said they felt there had been ample opportunity during the planning process for the businesses to raise concerns about relocating the bus stops.

Board member Pamela Zelnick said she was at a loss as to how the businesses didn’t know about the project when so many meetings were held and so many notices were sent out.

“I frankly don’t know how these businesses missed it,” she said.

The board voted 5-0 against relocating the bus stop now in front of Rubin's, and voted 4-1 against moving the stop not in front of The Butcherie. Chairman Josh Safer cast the lone vote in favor of moving that bus stop.

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