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.
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.