Here at the Clam, we like to do a little bit of good-natured ribbing around the fact that at times, Gloucester doesn’t particularly enjoy or welcome change. On the scale of how much the island accepts change, we’re somewhere between “We are a cannibal tribe who eats all who make contact with us” and “I suppose the Internet isn’t a fad after all.” It’s no surprise, then, that a simple, small modification that most of us realize is so glaringly necessary for safety can become a huge debate, steeped in local tradition and “but we’ve always done it this way!”

There are literally twenty topics that the introduction paragraph could have been written about (thanks for the constant source of content, townspeople!) but this time: parking on Prospect Street.

We covered a little bit of how abysmal the parking and driving situation is around Destino’s, Our Lady of Good Voyage, and the Portuguese Club when we ran our Tournament of Crappy Parking Lots. The Good Voyage lot is kind of a pain in the ass parking lot, and the spillover from church leads to the parking situation.

I understand that the parking situation is tough in that area. But this? The parking along Prospect? It’s dangerous, and it shouldn’t be allowed. End of story. That determination is simply based on the physical realities imposed on us by the laws of our universe that plainly state: Outside of a black hole, dimensional space is finite and therefore a given thing can only fit in a space large enough for that thing to occupy.

Pictured above: not a black hole

Pictured above: not a black hole

Look at this clusterfuck above, as captured by Prospect St resident Thomas Fernandes. Jesus Christ, what a disaster. The white Corolla with its lights on? That’s not a car traveling in the correct lane or pulled over to let an ambulance go past. Oh no, he’s parked. The cars behind him are parked as well. And that’s no ambulance with warning lights and sirens, it’s the CATA bus probably full of seniors, schoolchildren and newborn puppies from the shelter driving DIRECTLY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD in order to get down one of Gloucester’s major thoroughfares.

There is simply no way to navigate this stretch of road legally.

You are forced to break the law here by traversing over the middle line. We can get rid of the freaking wind turbines and generate more reliable electricity by just attaching the dynamos to the corpses of generations of driver’s ed teachers spinning in their graves. Look back at the photo: there is about enough room for a vegan on a Vespa. It’s about 4′ of space between the parked car and the yellow line.

Now, we know that Gloucester has some crazy streets where you have to creatively squeeze two cars into the space that usually only one can physically occupy. We’re used to it. We know where our mirrors will get knocked off. We carry around small shoehorns to parallel park on anywhere but the comfortably massive parking spaces on Main St.

But Prospect St is too busy and important for the kind of parking fuckery that we let slide everywhere else in town. I mean, if I had a dollar for every questionable parking spot I’ve seen within the city limits, I would have many sacks full of dollars. But this is the worst of it. It’s not an East Gloucester side road where the only place anyone has to get to is wherever the hell they sell ukulele strings. It’s a major road connecting downtown to the train station and Bayview.

City Councilor Melissa Cox took the initiative to face the problem head-on starting a few months ago, scheduling a site visit and getting the matter addressed at a city council meeting. She brought up salient points also known as “physical reality”: It isn’t wide enough – streets should be 11′ wide for each driving lane, and 8′ for parking, and Prospect is only 34ft wide there (where parking is legal across the street, as you can see to the very right of the above photo). Melissa also took a look into who is parking there: “most of the residents have parking. It’s mostly church and club events that use the area,” she discovered. She’s also pointed out that Gloucester’s police and fire are against having parking there for safety reasons. It should be a pretty cut and dry thing to do. Yet, the matter didn’t get voted on at the first meeting – it was moved to tonight. Because….why?

Why, you ask, would such a glaringly obvious issue that threatens not only the safety of drivers, pedestrians, and bikers in the area, but the ability for our police, fire, and ambulance services to do their jobs quickly and effectively, not be voted on immediately? So why are we delaying the vote? Why?

According to some members of the City Council, because people park there for church, which means  that the cars somehow fit. It’s a miracle, apparently.

Yep. You guessed it. One particular member of the city council thought it important that people continue to be able to park in an easy spot on a street that isn’t legally wide enough to contain said spot, so that he invoked something called “rule 2-11-c”, which postponed the vote. We don’t get the rule, but we’re wondering what the postponement could possibly change in terms of the measurements that determine what the laws should be.

Just get a fucking tape measure. It’s not wide enough. Unless this councilor is going to personally widen the road somehow using spackle over rolled up newspapers, we’re not sure what the question is. It doesn’t matter if it’s a church or a club or whatever, the road is not wide enough to accommodate cars in that section if people park there. What is there to even debate? Wormholes? Extradimensional spaces? If the particles making up the cars are vibrating strings? There is simply no discussion to have. It’s not big enough.

So the meeting was moved to tonight. Public input is helpful, so if you’re like the police and fire departments or anyone with a basic grasp of physics and think that we should do the safe thing, show your support.

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  1. Sorry just seeing this now! What happened?

  2. There is no way “99%” of houses on that stretch have parking. Even the house next to destinos, who has a driveway, can only fit a car blocking in another car, leaving their son and their guests out on the street. I can’t mentally picture any other house with a driveway. Not. One.

    • fix that: “…as pictured above, the houses do not have driveways. Not. One.”

      • I think Melissa was being facetious in her estimate. I also think she meant the general area and not those few houses.

        However, it’s a red herring in the argument – it’s still massively unsafe to have parking there. Convenience does not trump public safety.

  3. The separation of church and sense.

  4. And that photo is in perfect weather conditions.

  5. First, I have a web-crush on KT. If I can start every morning with this type of reporting and wit, my commute to Boston will be bliss.

    Secondly, this piece is spot on. The hilarity of the reality is frightening. I am not surprised to see city councilor Melissa Cox front & center on a safety issue and I am so glad there is a forum like the Clam for calling out areas we need change in our fair city.

    I live on Prospect albeit at the glorious Railroad / Maplewood intersection. Where 4 or 5 parking spaces along the side of the convenience store were taken out over the summer. I was miffed! We need that parking, I grumbled to myself.. renters around the area need that parking… But you know what – ITS SAFER. We got over it. People found alternative places. And now crossing the street is safer for everyone: walkers, bikers, dogs, baby carriages, seniors, teenagers. AND its safer for all the nut-job drivers approaching that intersection.

    What time is the meeting and where?

    • Aw, thanks!

      I live around the corner from you – my house is on Addison, abutting the graveyard. That intersection, omg. It’s so narrow on Prospect by the entrance to Ben’s. And people parking there was nuts.

      It’s insane how this town treats parking like their inalienable right. I’ve lived in a lot of other small cities in the area, and it’s not like that anywhere else!

  6. Pleasant Street is another clusterfuck that needs to be addressed. Who in their right mind put spaces on BOTH sides at the most narrow point??

  7. Go from Prospect up Friend. There is no way to take the corner at the top of the hill without crossing onto the other side of the road, going blind around a corner, hoping not to collide head on with cars coming the other way. Seems to me that the City should be liable if they force you to break the law in order to get around town.

    • Yeah….I live on that corner (Friend/Elwell) and for the last decade have watched massive accidents almost happen on a regular basis. And trying to turn right off of Friend to Prospect is a nightmare. The spot in front of Sunbanque is always taken which completely blocks the view to the left so you cannot see if anyone is coming.

  8. Anyone ever been to London? Or Paris? or Rome? or Amsterdam?

    • Yes, they don’t have nearly as many SUV’s and trucks driving around those narrow streets as we do. ‘Merica.

    • 3 of 4. London 1x, Rome 1x, Amsterdam 3x, also Zurich, 1x, Hamburg 4x, Munich 1x, Florence 1x and while they do have narrow roads they also have very explicit bylaws and guidelines about parking, right of way, etc… Even had an instance in Amsterdam when a cyclist (of which there are THOUSANDS) collided with an auto and the cyclist was held at fault as there are clear ROW guidelines in the city. Overall Jason, there is an opportunity to improve in a number of ways, yet we struggle to take on the challenge. For 4 years I have suggested to various planning commissions that taking an aggressive approach of remapping downtown City Streets to a greater number of one ways with more on street parking we could end up with better traffic flow, more parking, and a safer environment. This should not be on a whim, but a specific plan put together.

    • Freelance Peacekeeping Agent

      I grew up in Britain and traveled all round Europe. In the UK you’ll see double yellow lines all down streets like these, that means no parking of any kind ever or you get a ticket or your car clamped and towed. Complaints that ‘it happens in Europe’ are nonsense. It doesn’t, you have far far greater freedoms to park where you like over here, blocking two lane traffic is not one of those freedoms and has to stop before we have a head-on collision there or a fatality.

  9. can we also discuss the horrible parking on Derby street as well? Parking shouldn’t even be allowed there. Especially at the end where it connects to Washington street. When streets are too narrow like that and two cars can’t drive past each other without stopping to let the other go, that clearly shows parking shouldn’t be permitted there. And I hold my breath every time I drive by Our Lady’s cause I know very well how tight of a space it is driving by. Too dangerous!

  10. It is what it is…. Hey!! Let’s paint bike paths on the goat paths we call roads…or bump up the width of sidewalks.. at least we have another thing to bicker about. That Global warming Debate was wearing me down

  11. omg.

  12. How about Beacon Street.. It’s two way street that is more like a one way street with all the cars parked on it.

  13. There’s also a narrow stretch on Washington by the playground/baseball field – where people have to park up on the sidewalk…and it’s STILL too narrow. And the Masshole who always parks right at the corner of Centennial and Commonwealth..despite the minimal line-painting attempt by the city? Completely buggers up the right-hand turn (onto Centennial) and the sightlines.

    • From Emerson? I hate that. You can’t see a damn thing if you’re trying to cross Centennial and go up the hill on Commonwealth, and people go way too fast so by the time you can see if you’re good to go, someone has introduced their front grill to your passenger side.

  14. That stretch of Prospect should be one way. Since the sidewalks and curbing have been repaired, cars cant hop the curb and illegally park on the sidewalk so the passage on the street has become narrower. Also, the police really need to aggressively enforce the parking laws. Start by tagging and towing the doofs who park on crosswalks. I mostly walk when I go into town. Ive seen it all.

  15. I live on the corner of Taylor and Prospect Street. This is a mess. There was no need to do sidewalks over and make them six feet wide. They painted the crosswalks in ridiculous spots which take up more parking spaces. People park where there are no parking signs on Taylor Street and block me in my own driveway, i can’t get out to get to my own church but the police do not care. They never come when called. I would like to know who made this decision for the street and sidewalks and crosswalks because it is terrible!

  16. Funny that you wrote about this. When I was navigating this stretch las week, I was thinking that the next Clam Tournament should be, “Gloucester Streets That Aren’t One-Way, But SHOULD BE!!!”

  17. Vegan on a Vespa — classic!!

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