A preliminary parking analysis for the Ferdinand redevelopment in Dudley Square indicates that the demand for parking spaces by Boston Public School (BPS) employees relocating to the new municipal building could be as high as 260 spaces.
The study was conducted by Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB), a firm hired by the city to examine transportation and parking issues related to the Ferdinand site project.
David Black of VHB presented the study results to the Dudley Vision Advisory Task Force at a public meeting last week. About a dozen community members were in attendance.
The new municipal building, expected to open in fall 2013, will house 520 employees of BPS and related agencies.
About 200 BPS employees use their cars during the day to travel between sites, Black said, resulting in partial-day parking needs at any given work site. The VHB study translates this use into a potential demand for up to 100 parking spaces in or near Dudley Square.
In addition, the study calculates the number of employees that will want to park their cars all day while at work at 175, translating to an estimated need for another 160 all-day parking spots. Approximately 12 spaces, some of them in the limited space underneath the building, will be reserved for top BPS officials and School Committee members.
The bottom line, according to the study, is that total new parking space demand could be 220 to 260. And that does not even include parking considerations for the 20,000 square feet of new retail/restaurant establishments expected to fill the building’s ground floor, which the study did not address.
This is harsh news for a neighborhood already crowded with traffic and short on parking for local residents and businesses.
“I have to stick up for the existing merchants and agencies in Dudley Square. Parking is a big issue for people working here,” said Joyce Stanley, executive director of Dudley Square Main Streets and a task force member.
A survey her group conducted three years ago of area businesses indicated a shortage of at least 235 spaces for local employees even then.
There are 24 social service agencies and 11 government offices in the Dudley area, she noted. “It’s more than just retail. It’s also people coming at different times for services.”
At the start of the meeting, task force co-chair Ronn Garry said it was meant to be a “listening session” for city officials. “We’re not going to be receiving plans,” he said. “It’s our opportunity to discuss parking and help set the agenda going forward.”
With that in mind, part of the meeting was devoted to discussing strategies to either find or create more parking in the area, limit the time each parking space can be used, or actively discourage driving to work.
It did not appear the Ferdinand planners or the BPS have made specific plans for building or securing additional parking, but Black went over several possible plans.
Strategies for BPS include shuttling employees to and from remote parking lots; providing BPS pool vehicles or car-sharing (such as Zipcar) for employees who need to visit other sites; and encouraging use of public transit and car-pooling.
Strategies the city could employ include installing parking meters, implementing resident parking zones and strictly enforcing all types of parking limits.
Garry wondered if there is also a way to “incentivize taxis,” which are notoriously scarce in the area and often don’t come even with phone calls. There was some discussion of locating taxi stands in convenient places, especially near Dudley station.
Some people asked if the nearby Blair lot, currently on a list of vacant parcels considered for development under the Roxbury Strategic Master Plan, could be “pulled back” and used for parking instead. Dana Whiteside of the BRA said that “the short answer to that is no—but we would take under serious advisement to pull that parcel out of development and consider it for parking.”
Stanley listed several possible solutions. They include shuttle services from remote lots such as the Hampton Inn; arranging for private lot owners in Dudley to offer paid parking for local employees; and implementing six-hour meters, which would be convenient enough for Dudley workers but not long enough to serve the downtown workers who now leave their cars in Dudley all day.
Some attendees were clearly frustrated by the implications of the study, and felt the neighborhood was being asked to give up too much.
“I don’t even know where the school department thought they were going to get parking spaces, when they couldn’t get them downtown,” said local resident Valerie Shelley. “I think someone had better come up with a better plan. Dudley Station is right here. Let them take the T. I’m sorry, but why are we accommodating them with 200 new spaces, when we don’t even have 20 for our own residents? I understand we need something done with this [Ferdinand] building — but at whose cost?”
Maureen Anderson of the city’s Project and Construction Management department said after the meeting that they plan to present a draft parking plan at the June 28 task force meeting, after incorporating the task force and community input.
Other upcoming meetings on the Ferdinand project include an update on coordination among Ferdinand planners and other city agencies May 31; a discussion of the retail component June 14; and a design update July 12. All meetings are at 6 p.m. at 2315 Washington St. in Dudley Square.