Safety is loser in parking tradeoff


To the Editor:

I had to watch the July 9 Oak Bluffs selectmen’s meeting on MVTV several times, even though I had attended it and pled my case to restore the original parallel to curb parking instead of the angled parking now present on Sea View Avenue Extension.

Listening to members of the board, you would think that the residents finally have parking there, as if none existed. “I have had dozens of calls from residents that just love it, they call it pizza hill,” said selectman Mike Santoro.

Parking on that road is nothing new. Long before the Lookout Tavern was there, residents parked and ate their evening meals watching the water. The timeline on this whole mess started in the spring of 2012, when the board met to discuss angled parking in other areas of the town — none of which, after public discussion, was found suitable, due to safety issues for residents.

In the beginning of June, the road crews paved Sea View Avenue Extension and then put down new angled parking lines. This was never brought up in any selectmen’s meeting in the past several years, there are no minutes on such a discussion, nor are there any minutes from any streets and byways meetings on this change. Someone basically told the road crew to do it, and they followed orders.

The residents went to several selectmen’s meetings and a streets and byways meeting to get it restored. At the August 2012 meeting, we presented national statistics on the safety hazards on this small road with heavy traffic. The selectmen decided to review the info and get it back on their agenda for a vote.This did not happen until last week, July 2013.

To compare this stretch of road to any other area in town is truly apples to oranges This is a major transportation hub, with passenger ferries arriving daily, bike, moped, and car rentals starting at the bottom of the hill, and tour buses. It’s one of the highest pedestrian areas on the Island!

Just like last year, the Oak Bluffs officer in charge was asked if there had been any accidents. “No” was the reply. Well just because there have been no drownings on the Steamship ferry does not mean you can now take more passengers than life jackets, now does it?

A more realistic Richard Combra said, ” I think we are lucky that we haven’t had anything happen.” No one wants luck to be the deciding factor in one’s safety.

Chairman Walter Vail’s bottom line was that he was all for the angled parking. “We have a tradeoff here [15 additional parking spaces vs. our safety], we can’t have it all ways…there’s always a certain amount of danger in this town and it worries me, but I can’t change the town.”

That is true, but you have no problem making changes to parking that have been agreed by all, to put us in a less safe environment. That is not right. Why wasn’t angled parking put around the harbor on New York Avenue? The street is wider, longer, and has a buffer zone to the sidewalk. The town could have picked up four times the amount of spaces and maintained some sense of safety. When the fishing pier is completed, you will have kids riding their bikes to go fishing, tackle bucket hanging off a handlebar, rod clutched in the other hand, oblivious to the dangers created by our selectmen.

Harvey Russell

Oak Bluffs