Winter Parking Ban Revisited

27Mar15

Wakefield, MA eliminates winter ban on overnight on-street parking

snow_carLast December, I wrote about a storm brewing on Wakefield social media related to the winter parking ban. The ban, which has been in effect so long no one can remember when it started, prohibits overnight parking on the street from Dec. 1 to April 1 in order to facilitate snow plowing and ensure public safety.

It appears that the Board of Selectmen heard the calls to do away with the winter-long parking ban. On March 23, 2015 the Selectmen voted 5-1 to abolish the ban after one of the worst winters in living memory and despite the strong objections of Public Works Director Richard Stinson.

The winter parking ban will end forever on April 1, 2015. (No, it’s not a bad April Fools Day joke.) In the future, residents will be alerted via reverse 911, the news media and social media when cars must be off the street due to a winter storm.

Oh, I’m sure that will work, given the astounding number of people who in this Information Age somehow manage to remain blissfully clueless when it comes to news of any kind, never mind news of incoming inclement weather.

snow011211As one Facebook commenter put it last December, “I hope they change it. Then I can read all the complaints when people didn’t get the call or don’t realize it’s going too snow. That will be fun.”

He got his wish.

Have people forgotten what happened last year when the town tried to pass along some important information via the reverse telephone notification system? There was outrage over such abuse of a system that should only be used for “true emergencies.”

And can you imagine the high dudgeon that will ensue the first time a storm goes bust and we get dusted with a half inch of snow after the town has issued an overnight parking ban? Rick Stinson can imagine it, and he predicted that’s exactly what will happen every time a parking ban is called and the predicted storm fizzles.

wakefield122610In a stunning bit of irony, during the presentation of the DPW budget earlier in the same meeting, the selectmen had heaped praise on Stinson and his staff for a superior job of snow removal this winter, especially compared to surrounding communities.

Stinson insisted that the winter parking ban was a key component of his department’s ability to perform at such a high level.

“One of the reasons we’ve been better than surrounding communities is because of the parking ban,” Stinson said. He noted that street-widening operations in the days and nights after major storms would be hindered by parked cars.

“There is a safety concern,” Stinson said, arguing that eliminating the ban “will impair out ability to clear the roads to the standard we have now.”

storm_parking2013Selectman Betsy Sheeran, the only member of the board to oppose lifting the parking ban, said that she was convinced by Stinson’s arguments that eliminating the ban was a bad idea. She cautioned board members that if they ignored the DPW Director’s advice and eliminated the permanent parking ban, they wouldn’t have much credibility when complaining about snow removal in the future.

The same goes for anyone who advocated or applauded lifting the ban over the objections of the Department of Public Works. They, too, have forfeited any right to complain about snow removal operations in the future.

“I don’t want to hear it,” Sheeran said.

Neither do I.

[ Updated on March 27, 2015. An earlier version of his column originally appeared in the December 11, 2014 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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One Response to “Winter Parking Ban Revisited”

  1. That’s a cute snow sculpture on the first pic.


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