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Union Hill parking plan backed; Changes part of revitalization.

Byline: Nick Kotsopoulos

WORCESTER -- The City Council Traffic and Parking Committee has endorsed proposed on-street parking changes in the Union Hill area as part of a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization strategy to help improve and stabilize the quality of life for residents there.

Among the most significant changes is relocating the on-street parking from the east side of Providence Street to the west side. In the process, city officials said two to three parking spaces will be lost on Providence Street -- a point that some neighborhood residents feel is important.

Idella Hazard, a resident of the Union Hill area, Wednesday night questioned why city officials want to make changes to on-street parking in that neighborhood. She said residents have never complained about the current parking situation.

"This isn't something that citizens have been asking for,'' Ms. Hazard said. "It will be a total inconvenience to the residents.''

City officials acknowledged that some residents have raised concerns about the parking changes, but most are in favor of other phases of the project, such as street resurfacing, sidewalk repair, street-scape improvements and enhanced pedestrian crosswalks.

Stephen S. Rolle, director of the city's Division of Planning and Regulatory Services, said there is no opposition to the parking changes on the segment of Providence Street south of Aetna Street. He said what opposition does exist is in the northern most block of Providence Street.

One of the concepts of the revitalization and public investment is to create a gateway to the Union Hill neighborhood along the Providence Street and Harrison Street corridors. The Union Hill neighborhood is roughly bounded by Vernon Hill, Winthrop Street, Providence Street, Harrison Street, Interstate 290 and Grafton Street.

Gregory J. Baker, director of the city's Neighborhood Development Division, said improvements planned along those streets are intended to improve "curb appeal'' and safety by incorporating new sidewalks, curb extension, enhanced crosswalks and street resurfacing. To facilitate those improvements, Mr. Baker said on-street parking in the neighborhood had to be revisited and changed as well.

The changes are intended to address current deficiencies in existing pedestrian traffic access and circulation.

Because Providence Street is only 32 feet wide from curb-to-curb, city officials said it can only support parking on one side of the street.

Parking is currently provided on the east side of Providence Street, but because of a grade difference between the sidewalk and the curb, it is difficult for passengers to access the sidewalk from the parking lane, according to Mr. Rolle.

Because of the grade difference, city officials have said it is not feasible to correct that problem by redesigning the street and sidewalks.

Instead, the plan is to shift on-street parking to the west side of Providence Street, where there is also a greater concentration and variety of land uses.

Other parking changes include:

Creating a new and larger 30-minute parking zone on the west side of Providence Street (south of Harrison Street) to replace the existing 15-minute zone on the east side.

Creating a new 15-minute parking zone on the west side of Providence Street (north of Dorchester Street) to replace the existing 15-minute zone on the east side.

Prohibiting parking on the west side of Providence Street between the old fire station building and Winthrop Street.

Prohibiting parking on the east side of Providence Street between Harrison Street and a point 170 feet south of Dorchester Street.

Other minor adjustments call for prohibiting parking on the north side of westbound Dorchester Street and the south side of eastbound Dorchester Street, near the intersection with Providence Street.

Also, prohibiting parking on the north side of westbound Harrison Street, near the intersection with Providence Street.

Contact Nick Kotsopoulos at Follow him on Twitter @NCKotsopoulos
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Title Annotation:Local
Author:Kotsopoulos, Nick
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Aug 29, 2014
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