At the expense of some Yale employees, Dixwell residents want their streets back.
City officials this month declared large segments of two streets near Yale’s 25 Science Park offices to be residential parking areas. Five Dixwell residents interviewed last week said some Yale employees from the Science Park building — a privately owned research building from which Yale leases office space — were taking all the parking spots and clogging up the neighborhood with vehicles. With the new order in place, Science Park employees must relocate to a nearby garage where parking is guaranteed — but not free.
At a meeting two weeks ago, the city’s Board of Police Commissioners — which serves as the city’s traffic authority “for daily matters,” according to board chairman Richard Epstein — officially approved the order creating a residential parking zone.
With the new order in place, the Yale employees will have no other option but to park in a six-level garage that opened recently across the street from 25 Science Park. Now, at the end of each month, workers said, parking costs are deducted from their salaries according to how much they make and given to the garage. Three workers interviewed said $70 was deducted from their salary this month, and one said $100 was deducted. Of the four workers interviewed last week, all said they were unhappy about the fees but that they were generally pleased with the new parking facility.
“At least it’s nearby,” said Shirley Smith, 64, a senior telecommunications specialist for ITS who works at 25 Science Park.
In response, Ward 22 Alderman Greg Morehead, the city official who requested the parking order, said he never even considered money as a factor, only the frustrations of his Dixwell constituents.
“It could be Yale people or any other people — it doesn’t matter,” he said. “If they’re obstructing or causing a problem, I’m going to look for a solution.”
The two Dixwell streets affected by the order, Ashmun and Canal streets, are relatively narrow to begin with. And since most houses in the neighborhood do not have garages, the streets are made even narrower by the lines of vehicles parked on the street. Prior to the order, drivers looking for parking spots competed not only among themselves for scarce spots but also with many Science Park workers looking for free parking. Nearby construction also brought in more workers as parking rivals, often with large machinery taking up several spots.
Morehead said that since May, he had received complaints from residents concerning the parking situation in the area. Not only did the lack of parking inconvenience residents, he said, but when medical vehicles had to respond to emergencies in the area, they would be forced to double-park, completely shutting down traffic until the situation was resolved.
Morehead said he started a petition after receiving residents’ complaints and collected signatures from many residents in the community, finally resulting this week in the residential parking order.
“It just wasn’t fair for people to have to fight to get spots on their own block,” he said.
Epstein said city officials approved the residential parking zone once the parking lot opened.
“We only did it now that there’s an alternative for the employees,” Epstein said. “I mean, the garage is specifically for them.”
Of the eight residents interviewed Thursday afternoon, six said they did not want non-residents to park on the street. Still, despite the availability of new parking spots, some local residents said they still think there is a problem with parking in the area.
“There. Is. No. Parking. Here,” Joyce Carlan, a technician who lives in the area, stressed as she was walking to her car with a baby against her shoulder.
“It sucks,” one driver added, from his car. As he was talking, the driver sped off, thinking he had spotted an open space. It was taken by the time he got there. He began his hunt again.
Correction: Monday, October 26, 2009
An earlier version of this article inaccurately referred to the order creating a residential parking zone as an ordinance.