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Somerville businesses object to proposed removal of parking spots on Beacon Street

Posted by Your Town  November 14, 2012 08:53 AM

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More than 700 people have signed a petition objecting to a Beacon Street reconstruction plan that would remove more than 100 parking spaces along the Somerville street.

The owners of multiple businesses located on Beacon Street—including P & K Delicatessen, Café Rustica, Beacon Street Laundromat and Kiki & Art Hair Styling— say the plan to remove parking spots would hurt their business.

“It would kill the business,” said Ahmed Derrouche, the owner of Café Rustica. “We would lose between 20 and 25 percent of our business because people come and drive in for a cup of coffee.”

On Tuesday night, over 100 Somerville residents, business owners and officials gathered to discuss the plan to reconstruct Beacon Street.

The $4.5-million plan to reconstruct Beacon Street extends from the intersection at Oxford Street to Washington Street. Currently, the project includes repair of sewer and water lines, resurfacing of the street and installation of new crosswalks, signals, signal timing, and crosswalk countdown lights.

The proposed design also includes a 7-foot lane on each side of the road known as a cycle track, which is bike lane that is separated from traffic by a physical barrier. In order to accommodate the cycle track, the design calls for the elimination of all parking on the south side of the street. The decision to do so is supported by a parking study conducted by the city that shows that Beacon Street would still have sufficient parking.

Eva Hoffman, a Somerville resident, said that it is already difficult to find parking on days—such as street cleaning and snow removal—that eliminate the parking on one side of the street.

“[I’m] wedged between the commuter rail and the Cambridge line, so [I] don’t have places to go,” Hoffman said. “That’s why everyone thinks the parking study is ridiculous. There is extra parking on regular days, it’s only on these nights that we have to park on one side that there’s a problem.”

However, many bicyclists expressed satisfaction with the proposed design. There are about 300 cyclists during peak hours driving on Beacon Street, which many bikers say is an especially dangerous roadway.

Shannon Simms, a Somerville resident, attended the meeting in favor of the cycle track. She said she was hit by a car on Beacon Street outside of Walgreens this summer.

“I wasn’t injured, but seriously shooken up and I feared for my life,” Simms said. “I want to thank the city of Somerville for making it a safer place for bicyclists.”

Pete Stidman, the director of Boston Cyclists Union, said that there is reason for concern if half of the parking is eliminated. However, he said it is important to remember that cars are not the only vehicles on the road, and that a new cycle track can bring new business.

“We do need to preserve parking,” he said. “But bicyclists and pedestrians are spending money in this city too.”

This project is 80 percent federally funded, with the remaining 20 percent funded by the state. The final design of the project must be completed by September 2013.

For more information, visit the City of Somerville’s website.


Samantha Laine can be reached at

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