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TELL US: What Should Westford Do About Town Center Parking?

Last week, the item was discussed to the Selectmen, today we want your ideas.

As anyone going to Westford's town center knows....parking always has the potential to be tight during parades or Blueberry Festivals or Farmers' Markets or Snow Emergencys or days ending in Y.

It caused headaches for the neighbors on Connell Drive, and has required parking restriction signs at certain times for Connolly Insurance and the Westford Museum.

So today we ask you: what's your solution? Ease wetland restrictions and expand parking behind the Town Hall complex or the J.V. Fletcher Library? Expand time limited spaces along the Common? Purchase that house next to Town Hall?

And for that matter, is parking even the biggest focus when it comes to Town Center issues, or is it even the worst parking situation in town?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments

Phil McKrackin January 21, 2013 at 05:12 PM
Really? I understand that local neighbors are getting headaches because of parking overflow on certain days or during discreet events but is this really a priority for the town now??? Guess what..? We CAN'T have everything! (sorry kids) Westford needs to made more thoughtful (and sometimes painful) decisions about accommodating it's grown. I would like to see the powers that be PRIORITIZE better the decisions that need to be contemplated.
westford resident January 21, 2013 at 05:20 PM
Based on another article here on Patch parking along the rail trail seems to be another area of focus. Perfect examples of wasted time and money.
Peter C January 21, 2013 at 05:52 PM
The only place Westford leadership seems to have said NO to was its teachers in honoring their previously negotiated step increases... Everywhere else its been spend spend spend. No wonder so many teachers are looking for better paying jobs elsewhere, Brother!
Sam January 21, 2013 at 06:00 PM
CUT COSTS! Lets start with the Assistant Town Manager. No offense to the guy but why is this even a position in town? There is so much waste in every department we can easily pare down and regain a foothold on our budget. Alas getting governments to go backwards in spending is nearly impossible.
Think Twice January 21, 2013 at 07:07 PM
My opinion is a bit contrary to the rest - I think it's rare to have an option to buy a parcel right in the town center, so it's worth exploring that purchase option even in tight budgetary times, to avoid a more expensive solution down the road. The town center is the heart of our community, and anytime we have an event, cars park alongside the narrow roads for miles in every direction. Our town common is a major draw for living in Westford, and parking has been an issue I've heard complaints about for over 30 years. Lets explore wetlands restrictions and identify an acceptable way to add more parking, to go along with the heavy growth of population Westford has seen. I agree with tightening budgets and looking at every line item expense to trim areas of spending that aren't needed, but that's a separate item in my opinion. I'm tired of trying to go to the library, or to visit the Town Hall for my business filings, only to find there are no legal spaces to park. It's a shame that local residents have to open up their yards and offer parking on their lawn during town events, because we can't provide appropriate parking. Lets keep Westford the nice town I grew up in, along with many of you -- by making appropriate infrastructure improvements where needed (instead of reacting too late when it costs 10x more).
Gail January 21, 2013 at 07:19 PM
Move the Farmer's Market (the worst offender in my opinion) to the Abbot Field.
Sam January 21, 2013 at 07:26 PM
Interesting thoughts. Lift wetland restrictions. Take a look at the current Board members and if the town lifts wetland restrictions, which one would that benefit as well?
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) January 21, 2013 at 07:49 PM
Hi folks, Here's the link being discussed, it's the latest in a line of around two dozen stories about the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail parking issue. http://westford.patch.com/articles/selectmen-hear-more-updates-on-bruce-freeman-rail-trail For those of you just joining that discussion, in terms of money, Spring Town Meeting last year voted to approve acceptance of $5,000 from the Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail to study the issue of parking along the trail in Westford. Also, the Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization accepted federal funding for Phase 2A that would include a proposed parking lot over the line in Acton. It also cost staffing hours of town employees on other issues surrounding the trail, if that's what the user was discussing here. In any case, we have plenty of information on this, and we can obtain more, as can you: the Westford Planning Department is very helpful.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) January 21, 2013 at 07:52 PM
Man, sounds like Tuesday's BOS meeting is going to be interesting...
westford resident January 21, 2013 at 07:56 PM
I noticed the other day it will now cost me 25 cents to pay my taxes on line. No it's not a lot of money but I would think it would be cheaper for the town to collect revenues that way as opposed to a human opening up the mail or taking a check at the counter. Counter intuitive like many government actions or perhaps job preservation. One would think they'd be pushing ach
Dick January 22, 2013 at 12:34 AM
I like that idea!
Dan D. January 22, 2013 at 01:09 AM
Actually, I don't think that spending and budgets are a seperate item. I believe the town is already one of the most "mortgaged" around what with paying for prior purchases. It is a pain to park at Town Hall, but why do we have to go there anyhow? Why not be able to do most of the tasks at Town hall via the Web or kiosks? I don't think the town has done a very good job at looking at what really needs to be done with a "open eyes". For instance, there are a couple of towns in the Atlanta area that managed to incorporate over the past few years, with the goal of having NO permanent employees. In there charter, there is the goal of outsourcing as much of the town tasks as possible, holding vendors to strict quality measurements and rewarding when goals are more than met. I don't think anyone in town has ever looked at such creative solutions. Certainly, more important than parking.
Dan D. January 22, 2013 at 01:13 AM
I agree. there should be discount for paying on line, therefore a surcharge for sending a check, and a much bigger surcharge for showing up in person. The only way that would happen is if the Town Manger is forced to cut costs, but rewarded when costs go down and service stays the same or goes up. THAT is what I'd like her bosses (the Selectmen) to be spending their time with, not minor parking or, worse yet, grandstanding emotional issues like gun control or militia (which they will admit is doomed to failure).
Phil McKrackin January 22, 2013 at 05:07 PM
I literally NEVER have issues finding parking in the center of town. I frequent the library and farmer's market. Yes, sometimes it's crowded, but it does not warrant the town's money and time addressing parking plans. Patience and tolerance needs to be exercised by Westford residents and as well as town center residents (who chose to live there in the first place).
Mike January 22, 2013 at 05:21 PM
Meh. Keep your Atlanta suburbs; they horrendous examples of how not to plan for growth. Part of the reason we live in a small town is that personal connection with the people who live and work here. My wife can walk into the bank or Town Hall and generally knows -- and is known by -- the people behind the counter. We have a funky address that often caused problems with the tax assessors software, utilities and the town's 911 system -- it took an actual person to sort out the mess. I say this as someone with a background IT: there are some civic functions that shouldn't be automated.
Mike January 22, 2013 at 05:22 PM
Pardon the missing words.
Dan D. January 22, 2013 at 05:54 PM
Actually, Mike, the suburbs in question are beautiful.
Sally Rosenthal January 22, 2013 at 06:52 PM
I agree, I attend many events in the town center, including the Farmer's Market every week, and in the three years I've lived in town, the only time I've had trouble getting parking was for one Apple Blossom parade (when the town center is closed, anyway). There's not a parking problem in the town center--there's a traffic problem, especially at the intersections of Boston and Main, down the road near Roudenbush at the intersection of Main and Depot, and at the "point" of the common near the library entrance, and that problem exists not just during events. Seems to me that it would be a shame if there were no events at the library/PCA/First Parish Church/town common due to traffic issues--I think we'd be giving up a lot of the community and charm of the town if we forced events out of the town center. In my opinion, I'd prefer to see the town try to address traffic flow issues around the town center rather than what in my experience have been relatively minor parking issues.
Westford Student January 22, 2013 at 08:35 PM
This is a really horrible issue. If the town is going to hold so many events, THEY NEED TO GET MORE PARKING! During the strawberry festival, my brother and mom both received a 25 dollar ticket. They were both parked on Connell Drive. My brother wasn't parking in a parking space, so that was reasonable. My mom was parked behind a truck with a trailer, and that truck's trailer had jutted out just a little onto her parking spot (she was in a marked space), so she therefore had to park far enough back into the space so she wouldn't hit that truck. Her back end therefore jutted out a little but of her space. She still received a 25 dollar parking ticket for not being in a marked space, yet the truck in front of her didn't! It seems like Westford Police have nothing better to do than to do silly ticketing like this just to make money for the town. My mom didn't want to repeal it just because it isn't worth the 25 dollars and her time. She then sent in both checks to the Town Hall on time, yet a couple days later, she received two letters about how her checks were late, when they were actually handed in on time. There were two 5 dollar late charges. Again, the Town seems to have nothing better to do but to cheat us into paying them! And mind you, there were so many more cars on Connell Drive being ticketed (because of the lack of space to park). If the town is going to hold all these events, they need to provide adequate parking instead of ticketing people for the sake of ticketing!
Westford Student January 22, 2013 at 08:39 PM
I think that they need to, if anything, add more spaces on Connell Drive, if not expand the parking lot behind the library. Again, if the town is going to hold these events, it also needs to provide enough parking. I hate to say pave over the wetlands, because it goes agains Big Yellow Taxi! "They pave paradise, and put up a parking lot." The town needs to figure something out. They were chosen to make these decisions, so they need to show us that they are worthy f their positions. Honestly, I do think the best solution would be to expand the parking lot behind the Library, even if that means subtracting some nature. Although, there has been a problem with "rare turtles" in the wetlands. It prevented a neighbor of mine from building their house.
westford resident January 22, 2013 at 08:51 PM
there are some civic functions that shouldn't be automated but some should be - see my tax collection comment. I also think regionalizing some positions may be a solution to the out of control personnel costs that are proving to be unsustainable.
Westford Debunker January 24, 2013 at 01:52 AM
Connell drive is not a parking lot. Families live there and have children that play on the street.
Westford Student January 24, 2013 at 02:53 AM
In general, on any street, it isn't the safest thing to let kids play in the street And there *are* parking spaces that people use during these events, and it is a very popular street on which to park during these events, so we have to consider the facts. MY main point is that the town needs to provide adequate parking for these events instead of letting Connell drive cluttered and all the streets around Westford common getting cluttered on the streets. They need to solve their own problem. I believe they need to either expand a parking lot somewhere in Westford center, OR they need to open a parking lot that is private. SOMETHING. They need to fix this. I know it may not be the top priority, but it sure is a major problem. In my head, any major problem is a problem that needs to be fixed
Westford Student January 24, 2013 at 02:57 AM
So, the kids shouldn't be playing on the street because cars park there often, and there are parking spaces people use. That isn't an excuse for the town to not have adequate parking for all these events. Main Street is also a street where families live and cars park. So are many many other streets in Westford. Connell drive is just an example.
KarenL January 25, 2013 at 12:02 AM
I've not had a parking problem near Westford Center. During big events, we park at Abbot School and walk up, it's only 1/2 mile and sidewalks/safe walking all the way in. I really haven't considered it a problem worthy of much angst. If I have my elderly mother with me, I drop her off, park and walk back. Sometimes, we've got on our bikes and rode in from Nab...solves the parking problem altogether ;).
Amber January 28, 2013 at 11:32 PM
I agree that our BoS needs a serious reality check when it comes to prioritizing and saving the town money. STOP wasting money on legal opinions that are tilting at windmills. STOP dumping money into the bottomless pit at EBC. START bringing class sizes within SC guidelines, drop some Central Office admin. Consolidate van routes, one van for 2 students is wasteful. START making some painful cuts without taxing and feeing us to death because you don't have the cojones to really delve into a long-term solution.
James Andolini January 28, 2013 at 11:35 PM
One thing teachers and increasingly residents seem to agree on-time has come for a SC change in personnel.
bob January 29, 2013 at 12:45 AM
I agree move the farmers market to a better location. There is no reason to have it on the common. In my opinion the Common is dangerous place to have functions. It is surrounded by very busy roads on all sides. People flying around the corner to get 495 and 110. Make the common a round about to make the traffic flow Better. This town is fighting to keep its "small town" feel but seems to keep building strip malls everywhere?
Bill February 02, 2013 at 04:10 PM
DO NOT WORRY: The town of Westford will not have a parking problem soon, if the proposed, unconstitutional gun ban is approved. Since 32% of American households own guns, we will pack up and move out of this town. We will take our cars, bank accounts and shopping to any of the nearby cities that believe in the Constitution of America and you'll get the parking spots back that you so desperately seem to need.
Mike February 02, 2013 at 05:10 PM
Bill, there's nothing about the proposed law that's "unconstitutional." That word keeps getting thrown around fairly freely, so it would help to stop and consider that there are actually some strong legal standing for restricting types of weapons. I support the 2A, and like sport shooting, and have a healthy love for ARs chambered in .308 -- but I keep telling folks to please, please, please read Justice Scalia's opinion in DC vs. Heller.

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