The potential sale of the unused Phillips Ave. public school property and the perceived loss of parking spaces for the neighborhood is generating conversation.

The problem with political arguments, and most arguments in general, is a lack of agreed upon information from which to negotiate.

The people in opposition to the sale of the school to a developer base their belief on the idea that there will be no place to safely park their cars once the city lot at the school is sold.

What if there is no parking issue for the people in the neighborhood around the Phillips Avenue School?

Mayor Jon Mitchell insists there is no issue with parking in that neighborhood. There have been studies done and Mayor Mitchell, ever the hands-on executive, has done his own windshield research on the neighborhood. He told WBSM radio host Barry Richard that as he drove around the block that night, he saw 34 on-street vacant spaces, and just one block away found another 10 spaces. He said other city officials have driven that same neighborhood and found similar results.

"There isn't a parking issue there, there really isn't," Mitchell said. "We do parking studies all the time. It's just obvious there isn't."

The neighbors who park their cars in the school lot because they don't have access to a private driveway disagree with Mayor Mitchell and the studies. They live there and it is their experience that, if not for the school, they wouldn't be able to park in their neighborhood.

How about closing the school parking lot for 21 days and study what happens?

The closing of the lot would be an inconvenience for the current users, but it may prove their point and change some minds in the city. It also may show them they are worried about nothing and the parking situation isn't as dire as they believe.

Perhaps the experiment could include the parking spots for the neighbors as proposed by the developer who wants to buy and rebuild the property.

At the end of the 21-day experiment, the stakeholders in the process will have real-world information to use as they decide the fate of the city property and the neighborhood.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

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