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Councilors Criticize Garage Plan, $2 Million Grant

Three city councilors spoke out against the garage

Three city councilors spoke out Tuesday against a proposed $8 million parking garage on Governors Avenue and a $2 million grant the state is offering to help fund it.

"In my opinion, the mayor is using this to put heat on the council," Councilor Michael Marks said of the grant.

Lt. Governor Tim Murray announced during a visit to Medford earlier in February that the city would be given a $2 million grant for the garage through the MassWorks program, if the city council approved it. The four-level garage would provide Medford Square with about 200 new parking spaces.

But not all councilors are on board. Marks, Breanna Lungo-Koehn and Robert Penta have all been critical of the garage proposal, demanding the city implement a parking enforcement plan in Medford Square before funding a garage.

Last night, they questioned whether the garage was needed.

“It’s not needed," Lungo-Koehn said. "It’s not the place people are going to park."

Lungo-Koehn agreed that the grant was being used to pressure the council to approve grant and the remaining funding for the garage, which would need to be approved by a 5-2 vote because it requires a bond.

"I feel like it’s a lousy way to do business and tricky way to get the council to fold," she said. "It didn’t work, in my opinion."

Marks said he wanted to implement slant parking in Medford Square instead of a garage, but that wasn't being entertained at City Hall.

"This garage is set for failure," Marks said, "and I don’t want to be part of a garage borne by the tax payers that is not needed."

The council passed a resolution by forward by Penta asking City Solicitor Mark Rumley to find out how many votes were required for the city to procure the bond.

"We’re talking about $8 and half million of taxpayer money," Penta said. "It’s a huge amount of money."

The garage is part of a $30 million series of capital improvements projects being brought forward, coined by Mayor Michael McGlynn as "Chart the Course."

McGlynn has previously said business owners in Medford Square need the garage, and that the bond will be paid off by fees from users, not the taxpayers.

"The garage will be paid for by the users, not by the taxpayers," McGlynn said during a speech in October. "The revenue that will be generated from that garage pays off the bonds."

The council is expected to discuss the garage with McGlynn during a committee of the whole meeting next Tuesday.

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