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Officials raise concerns about road races in South Boston

Posted by Patrick Rosso  October 26, 2012 01:58 PM

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With its ocean views and flat terrain, South Boston has become a favorite for road races, but elected officials in the neighborhood are sick and tired of the inconvenience that masses of runners pose to their constituents and their vehicles.

Senator Jack Hart, Representative Nick Collins, and City Councilor Bill Linehan, all from South Boston, recently released a statement citing the officials' concerns with the number of races in the neighborhood, especially along Day Boulevard, which is administered by the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation.

According to the lifestyle website, Caught in Southie, there have been eight road closures or “No Parking Bans” on Day Boulevard between May and October.

“We understand and are supportive of the great causes these road races represent, but the concern we have in our neighborhood is parking and it’s one of the biggest issues we face,” said Senator Jack Hart. “It’s an impact to the neighborhood where the people have expressed grave concern. The costs to the neighborhood are significant because we have 300 to 400 cars that have nowhere to go.”

Hart said the problem doesn’t stem so much from communication, but the actually amount of parking spaces in the neighborhood and the number of races being held on the boulevard.

The letter also highlighted the recent Komen Race for the Cure. The letter stated that 120 cars were towed or ticketed Oct. 20 in anticipation of the upcoming race.

“We’re looking to work with DCR to come up with a solution around how we handle these things,” said Hart, “We have a capacity issue, we just believe that DCR shouldn’t willy-nilly hand out permits to road races where there is going to be a significant negative impact to people in the neighborhood.”

Hart suggested to take the pressure off the neighborhood some races shift their locations.

“Let’s work with DCR to find alternative sites,” said Hart. “There is a circle around UMass Boston where there would be ample parking; there could be road races around UMass Boston without an impact to any parking or residents.”

The delegation of South Boston elected officials have been meeting with DCR and the Massachusetts State Police, according to Hart, to figure out a solution.

“Those particular events have grown in complexity and number over the years and I think the delegation makes some legitimate points that we’ve been working with them on,” said DCR Commissioner Edward Lambert, Jr. “We certainly hear the issues being presented and we’re trying to address it.”

Lambert said actions are being taken on DCR’s end.

“For the time being we’ve already put a moratorium on new events. I think until we can find some good sound solutions we don’t want to exacerbate the problem,” added Lambert. “We will also look to see where we will be able to shift events to other locations and find ways to mitigate impacts, in particular the road closures and parking ban issues.”

Those parking bans and towing is what has ignited the controversy in a neighborhood that is already swollen with cars and a lack of spaces.

“We think there is a better way to do it,” said Representative Nick Collins. “If DCR and the Massachusetts State Police can’t handle a road race without towing, they shouldn’t have a road race at all.”

Email Patrick D. Rosso, Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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