Flowers and better lighting could be the first improvements coming to Brookline’s commercial areas next year as a new $50,000 annual fund takes effect.
The funds will come from an estimated in parking meter revenue after Brookline hikes meter rates across town and begins offering pricey spots to Red Sox fans near St. Mary's Station.
The $50,000 essentially replaces a line item cut from the parks department budget, according to Marge Amster, the town’s commercial areas coordinator, explaining the plan at Monday night’s meeting of the Economic Development Advisory Board. But the funds will go into the capital budget and can be “banked” if they are not spent, so that even bigger improvements are possible down the road.
The town wants some high-visibility results from the first year’s funds to show how important they are, Amster said. That could mean the return of large flowerpots to the commercial strips for at least a year, and better lighting around Coolidge Corner’s parking areas, she said. Those ideas came from early conversations among businesses and the Public Works Department.
Donald Warner, a member of EDAB and Town Meeting, expressed concern that “taking this incremental approach to the town is a waste of money.” He said Brookline should have a “comprehensive” plan for commercial district improvements and noted that the large flowerpots have often become “ashtrays.”
Kara Brewton, the town’s economic development director, noted that the funds could be saved for several years and used for that sort of comprehensive plan.
The expected parking revenue would come from meters along Beacon Street between St. Marys and Hawes streets near Fenway Park. Metered parking on game days will be extended until 10 p.m., with additional hours priced at $10. Officials are also hiking meter rates from 75 cents to $1 across town and extending meter hours until later in the evening.