Beacon Hill Fire:
A Wake Up Call
by Stephen Puibello
Reprinted with permission of Digital City Boston/America Online

Itís a sin that the Boston Fire Department couldnít get to the scene of a recent Beacon Hill fire because of illegally parked cars (for WB56 news story, click here). As a resident of Boston who doesnít own a car, but does own a condo, Iím very concerned for my safety, not only in terms of getting a fire engine to my home, but also police cars and ambulances.

Whoís at fault here? Obviously the owners of the cars who park illegally. But the Boston Transportation Department must take a share of the blame for not doing its job. If the BTD was doing its job, the illegally parked cars would not have blocked the fire engines and, more importantly, the individual who died in the fire might be alive today.

Thereís no excuse here, especially since the Beacon Hill Civic Association has been reporting to the city via its "parking committee" about the problem. Why isnít the Mayor addressing the individual neighborhood concerns? Why aren't those charged with running the department answering for the tragedy?

Boston has 16-18 new developments being built, some of them are 30 stories high. While most of them will be providing some parking spaces, there will never be enough. Visit Mass. Avenue in the Back Bay between 4 and 6 p.m. It can take vehicles up to 20 minutes to get across the Mass Ave. Bridge.

Phillip Street isnít the only street the city refuses to deal with. Take a look at Newbury Street -- between the double-parked cars, the cars that simply drive up and down to be noticed, the delivery trucks, and the city buses, it seems that it will only be a matter of time before we read a similar article about a tragedy in the Back Bay.

We residents of Boston welcome developers, the new housing, and the new jobs they create, but residents in all neighborhoods donít welcome additional cars and the traffic they create.

There exists today another committee that holds meetings, writes letters, and makes phone calls to the mayor. This committee, known as Citizens for Reasonable Development, advocates for fewer cars to make our streets passable for all emergency vehicles. This can only happen if there is reasonable development.

Let the fire on Beacon Hill be a WAKE-UP call to residents, businesses, and elected city officials -- in short everyone -- that in order to prosper and thrive in the city, we all need to be obey the rules (ordinances) that provide us with the quality of life we all seek.