EAST LONGMEADOW — The East Longmeadow Town Council discussed a proposal to limit parking on Melwood Avenue at its June 25 meeting following concerns from town officials and residents about the impact caused by the new high school.

The issue was initially raised during the site plan approval by the Planning Board and discussed with the Police Department, Town Manager Tom Christensen stated. He explained that with the current high school, people will often park on Melwood Avenue in the afternoon during pick up times in order to turn right onto Maple Street, as this cannot be done when parking in the school’s “horseshoe.”

However, with the new high school’s modified driveway directly across from Melwood Avenue, Christensen expressed concern about increased parking on the street, which is residential.

“I think the traffic is going to get worse and during construction in particular … I don’t know where people are going to park but if they find during this phasing that there’s nowhere to park, that’s the first place they’re going to go to park is on Melwood,” he said.

In addition to the parking concern, Christensen also stated that he spoke with the Fire Department about the possibility of parked cars on the end of Melwood Avenue impeding fire trucks’ ability to turn on the road from Maple Street.

The proposal brought to the Town Council at the June 25 meeting was to allow no parking on Melwood Avenue from 6-8 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. between Maple Street and Savoy Avenue.

Councilor Kathleen Hill stated that the new layout of the high school will be a “learning curve” for students, staff and the construction team when the next school year begins in August. She said that many residents “don’t realize” that the new school’s entrance will be across from Melwood Avenue and “additional patrols” would be needed for the first 60 days of the school year.

Council President Ralph Page also clarified that the proposed regulation would not apply to vehicles temporarily parking for a service to the nearby homes, such as for a delivery or landscaping.

Following discussion, the council decided to delay a decision on the issue until residents on Melwood Avenue were consulted about the change, as recommended by member Connor O’Shea.

“I think in practice it sounds like a good idea but I think that’s wonderful to actually reach out to residents to say, ‘Hey, I know you live here. What are your thoughts and concerns on no parking here to the corner?’” Page agreed.

In response to O’Shea’s suggestion, Christensen stated that he would collect additional information about the concerns from different groups, suggesting that he could send a letter notifying residents of the discussion. As a result, the council voted to table the discussion until its meeting in July.

Town manager evaluation

During the June 25 meeting, the Town Council also reviewed its annual evaluation of Christensen, as required by state law.

The evaluation looked at 10 categories with members rating Christensen in each category from 1 to 10, Page explained. The categories were individual characteristics, professional skills and status, relations with elected members of the governing body, policy execution, reporting, citizen relations, staffing, supervision, fiscal management and community, he said.

During discussion, Page highlighted goals that the council had set for Christensen for the previous year, noting that the town manager had completed or was currently working on all of the goals. These goals included high-speed internet and the Heritage Park project.

“I like the fact that as far as within the town … the morale is excellent and you’ve kept it that way. I mean, I think with the past Town Manager Mary McNally, she helped increase the morale in town and you’ve just kept it going,” Page stated.

Across the Town Council, members raised time management as an area of needed growth for Christensen, noting specifically that there was often a gap between when funding for a capital project is secured and the project is conducted.

Multiple members also acknowledged the high number of responsibilities placed on the town manager with Councilor Marilyn Richards remarking that she “often” thought the position required someone to “walk on water” and wondered “how can one person possibly be responsible for all of this” when the position was first created.

Hill went on to note that the position was “a process that you grow into,” stating that the town manager’s responsibilities pushed for growth following reflection on an overwhelming situation.

Councilor Jonathan Torcia additionally stated that the town government was “stable” and “getting more streamlined.” He talked about Christensen’s good communication skills with town officials and residents. Alternatively, Councilor Matthew Boucher requested increased updates from Christensen through email.

Moving forward, the council agreed to form a subcommittee to review each members’ evaluation sheet of Christensen and assign a final grade as well as discuss salary implications from the grade. The subcommittee will consist of Page, Hill and O’Shea, Page stated.