Health & Environment Real Estate Transportation

NEWNC “Tables” Confusing Plan for Cross Street Sidewalk Area

Diagram handed out at October’s NEWNC meeting showing proposed outdoor seating and traffic/parking plan for the sidewalk area on Cross St. between Hanover & Salem Streets. The thick black line is the Freedom Trail.

The North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) had a perplexing discussion at its October meeting regarding the proposed sidewalk plan in front of the former Martignetti’s Liquors site. The Cross Street sidewalk property is owned by the state’s new transportation department, that has absorbed the now defunct, Turnpike Authority. The BRA’s Peter Gori presented a plan through its involvement with the Greenway corridor and Crossroads initiatives.

A primary issue is the quantity, placement and care of new outdoor patio tables. The BRA plan calls for 78 seats. Currently, MassPike has granted Nick’s Deli a permit for 4 tables (16 seats). Cafe Graffiti is expected to apply for 46 seats which will be gated as required for alcohol service. DePasquale’s Pasta shop is expected to share patio seats with Nick’s Deli because the pasta shop has more frontage space, according to Gori. This became a point of contention as residents questioned the need for seats outside a retail pasta shop.

DePasquale has also requested 16 seats (4 tables) on the corner of Hanover and Cross Streets to support his GiGi’s Gelateria. These seats would also be open to the public. The council questioned this concept, indicating skepticism the seats would be viewed as public and expressed concerns about pedestrian flow on this busy corner.

Some other features of the plan include a Freedom Trail mural/map on the brick wall. Planters would surround the table areas, maintained by the businesses. The tables would be stacked at night. Gori recommended that the shops store the tables/chairs inside. The outdoor patio would be seasonal to allow for snow removal in the winter. No outdoor heaters would be permitted.

Confusion reigned with regards to the roadway and parking on the plaza area, lined by bollards. The BRA insists the bollards have to stay as well as the roadway to provide a throughway to the businesses on the other side of Salem Street, such as Pace and Maria’s Pastry. A question was raised whether this one condition should dictate the entire layout of the sidewalk plaza?

The parking situation remains in flux. Currently, it is shared commercial with 15 minute parking, turning to residential parking after 6pm. Inside the bollards, the BRA wants to eliminate 16 parking spots out of the 32 along both blocks of Cross Street. Parking on one side of the bollards would be commercial turning to residential after 6pm.

The parking plan initiated an extended discussion with questions as to whether the BRA could replace the lost spots elsewhere, perhaps at the empty taxi stand near Mother Anna’s or the spaces in front of Parcel 7. This would allow for a similar amount of residential parking spots with more pedestrian area on the woonerf.

Given the scope and questions surrounding the plan, the Council decided to postpone its vote on the configuration, pending further clarification the aforementioned issues. NEWNC voted 10-0 to table the issue and asked the BRA to consider its comments and prepare a better graphical representation.