Letter: Government should not twist and withhold data

Posted 12/28/21

To the editor:

Barrington’s government has not been fully transparent with important data related to the parking issue near public rights of way at our shoreline. I write to shed some light …

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Letter: Government should not twist and withhold data

Posted

To the editor:

Barrington’s government has not been fully transparent with important data related to the parking issue near public rights of way at our shoreline. I write to shed some light in two areas where our government has been less than transparent.

First, the town has never recorded an incident where an emergency vehicle’s passage was impeded by a parked vehicle.

I learned through an open records request that the town manager received and responded to an open records request in August of 2021 that asked for any record of any emergency vehicle ever being blocked from passage on any Barrington roadway due to parked cars. The town has no record of any such hindrance.

This is an important data point that the town should have disclosed during the Oct. 2021 town council meeting when the parking issue was being discussed. It is important because there has been discussion of on-street parking being a safety hazard on most Barrington streets (as most Barrington streets are narrower than 26 feet wide). The town has unofficially adopted a minimum width of 26 feet for parking on our roads but is only applying that standard for the most part to parking near public rights of way.

Frankly, I cannot fathom why this information has not been brought forward by the town and made part of the decision-making process.

Second, during the Oct. 2021 meeting, I asked directly about parking on Central Avenue in the Alfred Drown neighborhood, and why Central Avenue did not appear in the study of street widths near public rights of way presented at that meeting.

I learned afterward that the town made several measurements of the width of Central Avenue. Roughly half of this street (which runs two blocks) is just narrower than 26 feet and the other half of the street is 26 feet or wider.

The issue here is why was Central Avenue rejected in totality for parking when half of the street is wide enough to allow parking using the minimum 26-foot width standard?

No street parking standard states that if a single part of a road is too narrow to support parking that all of that road should have a parking ban on other parts that are wide enough to allow parking.

Why has the town decided that Central Avenue cannot be safely parked upon when half of the street is wide enough to support parking? A sensible conclusion would be half of the street should allow parking and half should not. An illogical conclusion would be to ban parking on the entirety of that street.

What other streets near public rights of way that were deemed too narrow to support parking are wide enough to support parking on some stretches of the street but not others? This information should be made part of our town-wide conversation.

These two issues trouble me because it is not difficult to reach a conclusion that the town is withholding information to reach a desired outcome when it comes to parking near public rights of way. 

It is not the role of government to twist and withhold data to justify a pre-determined outcome. These actions represent a disservice to the entire town.

Our government should be better than this.

Everyone in town should have the ability to park near our public rights of way to enjoy our shared shoreline, which is a precious resource for all. As things currently stand, parking is prohibited near most of Barrington’s public rights of way, and that is shameful.

Ken Block

Barrington

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