Newton Tab: August 20, 2014
A 2014 survey of Newtonville residents conducted by the Newtonville Area Council indicates that 74% are receptive to a development on the Austin Street parking lot under certain conditions. These conditions include: adequate public parking, appropriate size and density, and public space that adds vitality to Newtonville. In response, the city commissioned an independent parking study by GPI, to quantify existing levels of public parking. This parking study, recently presented at NNHS, reveals that the initial proposal of 85 spaces is not adequate to meet parking demand from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on most Saturdays, especially given that many people use the Shaw’s parking lot for public parking.
Concerns that the March and May GPI data collected are not representative are assuaged by additional data collected by former Alderman Stephen Linsky and others on Saturdays from September through December 2013. Peak Saturday parking usage in the GPI study ranged from 86 to 119, with a mean of 99, while the fall 2013 data found peak occupancy ranging from 77 to 126 with a mean of 95. The GPI study estimated peak demand on Saturday mornings to average 126 cars when the public use of Shaw’s parking is included.
The city now can negotiate with the developers to determine the optimal number of parking spaces. An important question is what is parking worth to the Newtonville community? Austin street proposals and current commercial rents suggest that each additional parking space costs a minimum of $6,000 per year in lost rent. Are we willing to change when we run our errands or walk further to visit Walnut St. businesses? Currently Newtonville is seen primarily as an errand spot. The hope is that the Austin Street development will turn Newtonville instead into a destination spot, with a vibrant village center, worth an extra five-minute walk.