In an effort to enhance pedestrian access and decrease the volume of traffic in the area of A Street and Beach Avenue, a plan to make a portion of the avenue one way is under consideration, according to Town Manager Philip Lemnios.
Whether due to the reconstruction of the handicapped-accessible ramp at A Street, which narrowed the nearby corner, or as the result of increased traffic in the area, the revamp is a possibility in response to requests from some residents, Lemnios reported to the Select Board this week.
“If this work is approved, it wouldn’t be done until after the summer, when there is lower traffic volume,” he said, noting that doing so would not change the direction of the intersecting streets.
“We’ll be asking the police and fire departments for input, and the issue will be on an upcoming agenda of the Select Board, who act as [the town’s] traffic commissioners,” Lemnios said.
Temporary safety measures that could be taken on A Street, which has heavy pedestrian and bicyclist traffic, will be part of the discussion.
With regard to helping to alleviate the heavy summer traffic in town, including the Beach Avenue area, Select Board member Domenico Sestito suggested encouraging specific Uber, taxi, and rideshare pickup and drop-off spots. For him, this is a quality-of-life issue.
Lemnios, however, said he is not sure “we could prohibit [these modes of transportation] from stopping on Beach Avenue to drop people off. It’s a public beach, and there is no such enforcement mechanism, although we can restrict parking” in certain areas.
He emphasized that the Hull police will not stop any car to ask where the driver is headed “without a cause. They don’t have that authority.”
He noted that not all Uber riders are out-of-towners and that some of the traffic is from Hull residents themselves, dropping off their kids at the beach while they find a parking space.
Select Board member Donna Pursel pointed out that the board has discussed “this quality-of-life issue” during every recent meeting.
“Ferry service has been reinstated, but we don’t offer transportation to the beach from there,” she said. “We just spent an hour discussing the Hull No Place for Hate committee – with its ‘A Place in the Sun for Everyone! Hull is No Place for Hate’ logo and its mission of building bridges for everyone. And yet we’re sending [mixed messages to visitors]: We either want them to come, or we don’t. It only becomes as clear as mud” as these discussions continue. (See related No Place for Hate story.)
Sestito vowed to never stop talking about the impacts of traffic and other issues on Hull residents’ quality of life.
“As a 40-year resident, I have some things on which to reflect,” he said. “I’m not advocating for closing the beach to nonresidents or legally challenging drivers of vehicles who are dropping off people at the beach, but the quality of life is diminishing. Why can’t we look at opportunities to support visitors from out of town with specific drop-off areas?
“I’m not taking a negative position, but the quality of life of our residents will always be my number one priority.”
Select Board Chair Jennifer Constable called the ongoing conversation “a healthy discussion and debate. This is a multifaceted issue, and there are a number of different perspectives,” she said.
Some residents have voiced concerns about traffic and other issues, but Constable said additional measures may be needed. “If people notice [something wrong going on], they should call the Police Department or the appropriate authority and not ignore the issue and then complain about it,” she said. “We are a welcoming community, and the beach is welcoming, but the message [needs to get out there] that we won’t tolerate bad behavior.” That could include wild parties or other disruptive actions and dumping trash on the beach.
The discussion was cut short because the subject was raised during Select Board reports and was not posted on the agenda.
Select Board member Greg Grey suggested putting the issue on an upcoming agenda, listing specific related topics for discussion.