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Parks & Rec Commission discusses ‘sneaky parkers’ at EMC Park parking lot, Sandy Beach signage

by | Mar 17, 2024 | Featured: News, News

The Parks & Recreation Commission at its meeting Thursday addressed a request for the commission to formally allocate some parking spaces at the EMC Park parking lot for high school seniors beginning in September, noting that there already is a student parking issue there.

Lewitus said he had a discussion with Hopkinton High School Principal Evan Bishop regarding student parking at the EMC Park parking lot beginning in the fall. But Lewitus noted that “kids park there all the time” now.

When the Hopkins School addition project begins in the fall, Bishop told Lewitus that it will limit student parking options there. Lewitus said Bishop requested that spaces at the EMC Park parking lot be allocated for high school seniors. The proposed arrangement would begin in September and run through mid-April 2025.

“One of my concerns was this is a public park,” Lewitus explained. “If we give away these spots, how many can we designate for the public?”

He also questioned enforcement and how a sticker policy would be implemented.

Parks & Rec Commission chair Dan Terry said there is “a written agreement that says they can’t do this,” although he didn’t know if it had an expiration date. Abutters should be notified of a potential change so they can provide feedback, he added.

Commissioner Amy O’Donnell explained that many current HHS students can’t get spots in the school lot because they are reserved for seniors.

“Students today are driving as sophomores,” she said, “and they can’t get spots until much later.”

O’Donnell added that Bishop is not requesting spots for the students who are “sneaky parkers” there but for spaces the high school is unable to provide. She said the EMC lot already is crowded, calling it “a school issue” rather than a Parks & Rec one.

She stressed that Bishop needs to address “the bigger problem” of the overall lack of student parking at the high school.

Said O’Donnell: “I just think that if we’re going to sort through a solution for a few, we should sort through a solution for everyone.”

Commissioner Seth Kenney added that Bishop needs to put forward a proposal “that deals with that holistically.”

Lewitus said he observed students illegally parking in the accessible spots, which is “a real issue.” He planned to bring the commission’s concerns back to Bishop.

LMPA proposes multilingual signage at Sandy Beach

The commission approved 4-0 a signage request by the Lake Maspenock Preservation Association (LMPA) for the Sandy Beach boat ramp regarding boat safety and regulations.

LMPA member and Upton resident Scott Colwell presented a mock-up for the proposed sign. It would be 43 inches high by 52 inches long. Positive messages regarding safety and lake enjoyment would be displayed along with the “basic guidelines” for operating boats safely. One message would pertain to “aquatic hitchhikers” — invasive species prevalent in Lake Maspenock that can travel on boats and become entangled in boat propellers, anchor lines and trailers.

“Aquatic hitchhikers is a big issue,” he explained. “We want to make sure that people are cleaning their boats properly.”

Messages prohibiting swimming at the boat dock and power loading will be displayed, as well as “no wake zone” in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Also, there will be an information pamphlet holder.

“We tried to choose things that had a lot of visuals,” said LMPA vice president Sabine St. Pierre. She hoped the “no wake zone” signs would prevent jet skis from “doing doughnuts,” which she has observed there.

St. Pierre added that posted rules give public safety officials backup when enforcing violations. Lewitus noted that the rules will be more strictly enforced than in the past.

Commission members and LMPA representatives agreed that the three languages were necessary given the populations that use the area. Concerns arose about the sign appearing cluttered and losing its effectiveness. Director Jon Lewitus suggested having QR codes for Spanish and Portuguese for access to information, and all present agreed.

Terry questioned the effectiveness of having “no wake zone” signage facing the parking lot. Colwell suggested instead putting that message on buoys, which would reduce sign clutter. Terry also suggested that the Parks & Rec logo be placed on the sign along with the LMPA one.

St. Pierre said she will present a revised draft to Lewitus that would integrate the feedback for his approval.

Sandy Beach subcommittee structure discussed

St. Pierre suggested making the commission’s Sandy Beach ad hoc committee an LMPA subcommittee. She noted that the commission already has many activities under its purview, and LMPA members have expressed an interest in serving in this capacity.

Terry said he was “leaning toward” it becoming a Parks & Rec subcommittee rather than an ad hoc one. It could include department staff, he pointed out.  Lewitus agreed, noting that the new program director’s role will focus on Sandy Beach.

Terry noted that the commission’s relationship with the LMPA has “greatly improved” during the course of his tenure. He proposed that Lewitus come up with language describing the subcommittee’s mission and composition and present it at the next meeting.

Commission approves mural additions at EMC Park

The commission discussed the timeline for approving up to five new segments of the fence mural at EMC Park by the Hopkinton Cultural Council. HCC chair Ilana Casady explained that the call to artists will end May 1. Submissions will be juried by May 20, with the top five going before the Parks & Recreation Commission for approval for installation. The continued theme for the mural is diversity.

Casady said the selected works should be completed by Aug. 31 in anticipation of the annual PolyArts festival in September.

3 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Sneaky Parking?
    Typically anywhere from 40 to 50 student vehicles park at EMC each school day. It is only getting worse and there has to be roughly 100 to 140 students that walk up to HHS each day. ‘Original’ EMC park conditions when park was opened restricted parking to users of the park.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      The problem is that the population of the school has risen steadily in recent years so they ran out of parking on school property

      Reply
  2. Dale Danahy

    I want to know if the school collects the parking fees for allowing students to park at EMC, a town owned public parking lot??

    Reply

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