On July 23, 2015 at the Brookline Transportation Board Meeting, the board voted unanimously to approve 40 parking permits for Brookline Early Education Program (BEEP) teachers at the Temple Emeth BEEP location in South Brookline and nine additional temporary permits for BEEP teachers at Temple Ohabei Shalom in North Brookline. BEEP and its teachers will not be charged for these permits.
At the meeting, both local residents and teachers and administrators from BEEP expressed their viewpoints for and against providing teachers with local parking permits. Local residents who opposed the permits largely communicated their concerns around increased parking congestion on their streets and spoke of instances where teachers were parking too close to the street corners or not clearly showing their permits in their cars. BEEP administrators reiterated their desire to work closely with the neighborhoods and local residents to find a solution that was amenable to all. Vicki Milstein, Principal of Early Education at BEEP, stated, “We truly want to be good neighbors in the local communities in which we operate.”
Last year, BEEP teachers working at both Temple Emeth and Temple Ohabei Shalom were given temporary permits to park on the streets as a trial to see how the permits would affect residential parking, if the teachers were parking in accordance to the specific street locations to which they were assigned, and whether the teachers did not violate basic parking laws including blocking driveways, parking too close to corners and stop signs, etc.
The Transportation Board has been under pressure throughout this process from individuals and constituencies who want the School Department to pay for these teacher permits, as well as to encourage or incentivize teachers to utilize public transportation.
At the Temple Emeth BEEP location, the Transportation Board approved 40 permits going forward, an increase of 7 permits that were dispensed last year through the temporary permit solution. This was to build a buffer for future BEEP growth at this location. Every permit is for a specific location on one of the residential streets around Temple Emeth. BEEP teachers must comply with parking at the specific location of their permit, as well as with all local parking regulations. Todd Kirrane, Transportation Administrator for the Town of Brookline, laid out in the July 23 meeting a plan to disperse the permits in a quarter of a mile radius around the temple in such a way to minimize intrusion to local residential parking. There is currently no on-site parking at Temple Emeth and the only public transportation option to this site is the MBTA Rt. 51 bus which runs sporadically and was not deemed a reliable alternative for BEEP teachers.
In the South Brookline BEEP location at Temple Ohabei Shalom, nine temporary permits were granted to the teachers which will allow them to park in the metered spaces on the median of Beacon Street across from the Holiday Inn for two years, September 1, 2015 to September 1, 2017. At the end of this period, the issue will be reevaluated and, hopefully, a holistic parking solution for Brookline public school teachers will be developed by the School Committee and other key, local stakeholders.
This metered solution was devised because this area in South Brookline is under extreme parking pressure given the commercial and residential vehicles that currently take up the majority of existing parking spaces available. In accordance with the commercial parking program in Brookline, non-Brookline residents (commercial vehicles and school employees) can park in no more than 40% of the available spaces on the streets in this urban area. Going forward, the Transportation Board may consider reducing the number of commercial permits in and around this location and give these spaces to BEEP teachers.
As the public schools in Brookline have become more crowded in recent years, parking for Brookline public teachers has become a growing concern. There are already several on-street parking permit programs for public school teachers at schools that do not have enough parking. Many BEEP teachers, all of whom are employed by the Brookline Public School system, have been forced to move their classrooms from public school locations including Devotion School, Pierce School and the Brookline High School to Temple Emeth and Temple Ohabei Shalom. These new, non-public school sites do not have adequate parking for BEEP teachers; creating a situation where alternative parking options are needed.
~ Casey Hassenstein