Parking on Kimball Street in Pembroke given the squeeze

  • Narrow Kimball Street in Pembroke is getting clogged by traffic and parked cars. —Courtesy Pembroke Police

  • Narrow Kimball Street in Pembroke is getting clogged by traffic and parked cars. —Courtesy Pembroke Police

Monitor columnist
Published: 4/23/2021 3:24:17 PM

A steady stream of delivery trucks dropping off packages from internet shoppers during the pandemic has had an undeniable effect on a narrow street in Pembroke.

Kimball Street – already too tight for two cars to pass one another, already clogged to make room for the sidewalk, the snow and the snowplows, and already squeezed due to the big delivery trucks that park on the road and are common these days due to COVID – created a perfect storm that officials could no longer ignore.

Gerry Fleury and other town officials in devised a foolproof way to show that Kimball Street was too narrow to support the number and placement of parking spots it has.

They did the math. There was no way around it.

“The road is only 20 feet wide,” Fleury, the chairman of the Pembroke Budget Committee, said by phone. “If you take the average width of a car and the average width of a pickup truck, and with cars possibly parked on both sides, you need more room. And then you come to a blind hill.”

That’s why Dwayne Gilman and V.J. Ranfos, Pembroke’s chief of police and its director of the Public Works Department, were scheduled to return to Kimball to inspect a 450-foot stretch of road, looking to eliminate parking spots and give the residential area, which includes about 20 homes, some breathing room.

That followed a select board meeting on Wednesday, at which time the board, by a 4-0 count, amended the town ordinance and added the incredible shrinking street to the list of roads in the Granite State that have been told to offer fewer parking spots in the name of safety.

It’s been a long time coming. In fact, a reconstruction project three years ago made matter worse, Fleury said.

“That only exacerbated the problem,” he said. “We brought the sidewalk on one side close to regulation width.”

Fleury said he can see a car approaching the crest as he moves closer from the other direction, but only when he’s got a high-up view in his pickup.

Compact car? Forget it. You see nothing but crest. And if you happen to be in the center of the road to avoid parked cars during a squeeze play, you’re in danger of a sudden collision.

“All you can do is hope no one’s coming,” Fleury said.

Fleury read a strong and thoughtful speech at Wednesday’s select board meeting, addressing the congestion on his road. He mentioned COVID and the effect it has had on parking.

“Since the onset of the COVID pandemic,” Fleury said, “the number of deliveries from large delivery vehicles like UPS, Fed Ex and Amazon Prime and a narrow roadway due to parked cars only makes the situation more dangerous.”

Turning Kimball into a one-way street was discussed at an earlier meeting and continued on Wednesday, but with so little room to navigate on the street in the first place, that was parked for good.

Fleury was pleased, citing the remaining problems that would still exist on a one-way, like the impeding effect it would have on snowplows, trash pickup and emergency vehicles.

But Fleury and others, including Town Administrator David Jodoin, said the hill’s crest on Kimball has long been the major trouble spot. The most dangerous.

Chief Gilman was not available to provide data on the number of accidents that have occurred there, but it’s a scary place nonetheless.

In the minutes from Wednesday’s meeting, Gilman said, “It was agreed that no parking on both sides in the area of the hill would be the best solution as to not to interfere with other residents and their parking.”

Soon, once Gilman and Ranfos, who deferred questions to Gilman on Thursday, have finished their work, four posted signs, at a cost of $50 each, will explain to the public where parking is permitted and where it is not.

“I approach the hill and I have my fingers crossed, Fleury said, “and I’m hoping there’s no one on the other side.”

Ray Duckler bio photo

Ray Duckler, our intrepid columnist, focuses on the Suncook Valley. He floats from topic to topic, searching for the humor or sadness or humanity in each subject. A native New Yorker, he loves the Yankees and Giants. The Red Sox and Patriots? Not so much.

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