In the face of Covid-19, as the next phase of reopening statewide occurs, the town is moving ahead with plans for outside dining at restaurants, extending free parking and expanding the weeklong shared-streets pilot in East Arlington, deemed a success.
Considering relief, Ali Carter, town economic-development director, who told the Select Board on June 1 that "a lot of businesses that won't make it through this," discussed a variety of recommendations made in a May 28 memo from planning director Jenny Raitt.
The town's Economic Development Recovery Task Force, meeting since early May, recommended ways for business to reopen while keeping public health and safety in view. They include:
- Suspending parking-fee collections in the Center during Phase 1 reopening and reconsider extending it for each phase. Such fee collections have been informally suspended since mid-March. The Select Board agreed, voting an indefinite suspension, with the proviso that this could change in a month.
- Suspending temporary sign-permit review until the emergency ends to allow for businesses to communicate clearly with customers while they are closed or before customers entering the store.
- Relaxing rules for storefront window signs until the emergency ends, on the condition that temporary interior signs (e.g. banners, posters, illuminated signs) installed during this time must be removed once the emergency is lifted.
- Allowing property owners to request a waiver for the annual fee required by the Registration of Vacant Commercial and Industrial Property bylaw if owners can demonstrate a direct impact of the Covid-19 pandemic to their difficulty retaining or attracting tenants.
Furthermore, the task force discussed emerging trends in community’s nationwide that are taking action to accommodate seasonal business activity and enhancing opportunities for social distancing in innovative ways. In an era of unprecedented take-out, delivery and curbside-pickup business, curbside management needs to be responsive to the new demands of commerce in neighborhood business districts while also being mindful of other curbside needs and uses. Thus, the task force also recommended:
- Expanding opportunities for seasonal outdoor dining and shopping; and
- Creating 15-minute parking zones in business districts to ease curbside pickup and deliveries.
Member Joseph Curro Jr. asked how close the town is to paying parking fees by phone, noting it would minimize touching. Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine assured him it was due soon.
The task force recommendations were supported, 5-0.
As to shared the shared-streets pilot, Daniel Amstutz, senior transportation planner, provided a half-hour update.
Chapdelaine commended the board for its leadership about the project, calling the town at the forefront of sustainable transportation. The town's effort took place in May, before similar projects in Somerville and Cambridge. Read an earlier report here >>
Amstutz cited "substantial public support," with 123 nominations for other streets throughout Arlington.
The board voted, 5-0, to request developing a criteria about shared streets might work elsewhere in town.
During citizen's open forum, at a meeting with 23 participants early on, Kate Byrd of Brattle Street and Galen Mook of MassBike urged safety for cyclists, including action on the Mass. Ave./Appleton intersection, where cyclist Charlie Proctor was struck by a car and killed in May. Also speaking was Thomas Proctor, Charlie's brother. Mook suggested a memorial for the site, and that issue is on the June 8 Select Board agenda.
In other business, the board approved, 5-0, the 2020 farmers' market as well as a storage shed at Russell Common lot beginning in early June and running until at least June 2021. The purpose is to store cones, dividers and signs for the farmers’ market. These items will also be used for future Covid‐19 drive-through testing sites as well as for drive through vaccination clinics. See the full shed memo >>
Under the consent agenda, the board voted, 5-0, to approve:
- The date change for the Arlington Public Art Youth Banner Initiative, originally approved for April through June, and changed to July through August, as per Kaitlin Longmire, project coordinator;
- Arlington International Film Festival Banners, as per April L. Ranck and Alberto Guzman, AIFF;
- 11 new election workers: Jeffrey Candell, 16 Pelham Terrace, U, Pct. 8; rank Foster Jr., 174 Scituate St., D, Pct. 11; Christopher Harrington, 74 Columbia Road, U, Pct. 13; Aaron Litvin, 215 Mass. Ave., U, Pct. 2; Stacey Loughrey-Sloboda, 38 Grafton St., D, Pct. 3; Cheryl Luongo, 43 Millett St., R, Pct. 10; Anne MacLellan, 39 Scituate St., U, Pct. 7; Philip Malatesta, 8 Walnut Terrace, R, Pct. 14; Beth Melofchik, 20 Russell St., U, Pct. 10; Geoffrey Smith, 61 Yerxa Road, U, Pct. 15: Katiri Wagner-Nunes, 129 Pleasant St., D, Pct. 7.
Under new business, board members recognized at length Dan Dunn, who was attending his last meeting after nine years.
This news summary was published Sunday, June 7, 2020.
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