By SCOTT JACKSON
Half the parking spaces at the North Quincy MBTA station will close the week of Feb. 17 as the first phase of a mixed-use development on site begins.
Quincy residents and several elected officials raised concerns about the plan during a community meeting Wednesday, saying the T should provide a shuttle service from Squantum Point Park to the station to mitigate the loss of parking.
Two firms, Atlantic Development and Bozzuto Development, plan to construct a mixed-use development with 610 apartments and 45,000 square feet of retail space on site. Their plan also includes a parking garage, which will include 852 spaces dedicated for MBTA commuters – equal to the surface spaces that will be removed during the project. Seven hundred other parking spaces are included in the plan for residential and retail use.
The garage and one of the mixed-use buildings would be built during the first phase of construction, which is expected to take 18 months. The second phase, with the remaining portions of the development, will take another 18 months.
Starting the week of Feb. 17, access to 600 parking spaces on the Hancock Street side of the lot will close as construction begins. T officials on Wednesday said more than 600 other spaces would remain open between the Hancock Street side of the station and the lot on Newport Avenue. Additionally, those officials said more than 400 spaces go unused on a regular basis at Wollaston station, which is currently closed and scheduled to re-open in August. The shuttle service between Quincy Center, Wollaston and North Quincy will continue to run until Wollaston re-opens.
Evan Rowe, the MBTA’s director of revenue, said more than half of the commuters who use the North Quincy lot are from Milton and communities south of Quincy. He suggested those commuters could divert themselves to other Red Line or Commuter Rail stations once the North Quincy project begins.
“Less than 50 percent of the folks who park at North Quincy are actually from Quincy,” Rowe said. “What that means is there are other options that we can publicize to the folks who are coming in from Milton, who are coming in from Braintree, Weymouth, Hingham and the other South Shore communities that make up a substantial percentage of the parkers in the North Quincy facility.”
Several residents asked the T officials if they had looked into using other parking lots near the North Quincy station to accommodate commuters once the construction project begins. Rowe said alternatives were looked at but no additional lots were available.
Linda Lund, a North Quincy resident, was the first resident to ask about the shuttle service between the North Quincy station and Squantum Point Park. T officials told the City Council in April 2017 that would be a fallback option if no other parking lots were available.
Rowe said that option had not been explored because it would be difficult to implement.
“That’s not really an option that’s been explored,” he said. “The frequency of buses we’d have to run to make a shuttle functional would be challenging to implement.”
Kevin Coughlin, a former Ward 3 councillor, said he been given assurances the shuttle service would be in place to mitigate the project’s impact on neighborhoods near the station.
“When I was on the council my last term, the proposal before us tonight was in its infancy and I was given assurances at that point that there would be a shuttle bus running from Squantum Point Park because of the concerns that have been raised with neighborhoods both on the North Quincy High side of West Squantum Street as well as the Montclair area,” Coughlin said.
“I’m a little disappointed to hear that has not been further pursued.”
Councillor Nina Liang said the project should be delayed so T officials could further consider using Squantum Point Park for shuttle service.
“Hold off construction until you can come back to us with real answers,” she said. “If you’re saying to me right now, ‘I can’t do anything – construction is going to start,’ then I don’t know why I wasted my time coming here.”
Jeff Cook, the T’s chief real estate officer, said he could not delay the project. He said it would take about two weeks to study the shuttle service to and from Squantum Point Park.
Rick Colon, a MassDOT official, noted the extension of Commander Shea Boulevard to Squantum Point Park would be constructed this spring; the shuttle service could not be implemented until the extension is done, unless private roads in Marina Bay were used for access.