The Town of Bourne is exploring a simple way to give back to residents who served in the military by offering dedicated parking spaces for veterans on town-owned property.
Selectman Peter J. Meier brought the idea to the board at its May 28 meeting. Mr. Meier noted that the parameters of the Brave Act, signed by Governor Charles D. Baker Jr. last fall, gives municipalities the option to designate parking at a city or town hall for military veterans.
Mr. Meier suggested that the board consider expanding on the state law and create a bylaw that would call for dedicated veteran parking on any property owned by the town.
“We don’t do enough for our veterans to give recognition for what they do,” he said. “I thought this would be a great tool.”
Selectman James L. Potter concurred that any action to expand beyond what is allowed by state law would require creation of a new bylaw. That is because the parking section of the Brave Act limits the locations where space can be designated to a city or town hall, Mr. Potter said.
“You would have to do a local bylaw to add this to your parking zoning laws,” he said.
Selectman George G. Slade, who served in the US Marine Corps, said the designated veteran parking is “a very thoughtful gesture” and something worth considering. However, he questioned how many people it would benefit, and suggested contacting veterans’ groups in Bourne to get a sense where dedicated parking would do the most good.
Mr. Slade noted that handicapped parking spaces already are available at the community building. In addition, there is talk of installing an electric car charging station that would take up two more spaces. Acting on Mr. Meier’s suggestion, more parking spaces would be made unavailable to the general public, he said.
“That’s the only thing concerning me,” he said, “but I think it’s something worth considering. I think we just have to think that out.”
Mr. Slade said it would be worthwhile to contact Town Clerk Barry H. Johnson for veteran information gathered through the town’s census to determine just how many residents would be helped.
“That’s what I want to know,” the selectman said. “What’s the population that we’re going to be offering this to? If it’s too many and only one spot, that may work against it. I just want to think it out; that’s all I’m saying.”
Selectman Jared P. MacDonald also served in the US Marine Corps. Mr. MacDonald concurred with Mr. Slade that the town needs to be cautious, given all the talk of specifying who can park where.
“When you start labeling spaces, your veterans’ spaces, your handicapped spaces, your electric car spaces, we just have to be cognizant of where we put them, [that] is the most important thing,” he said.
Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino said that a designated veteran space can be marked off at Bourne Town Hall per the state law while the board searches for “more expanded opportunities.”
Mr. Meier suggested having Mr. Slade and Mr. MacDonald reach out to their contacts with veterans’ groups for reaction to the proposal.
Offering veterans designated parking, the selectman said, could ultimately amount to very little in the end, but this would be “a simple token of our appreciation.”
The board agreed to take up the issue again during its first meeting next month—Tuesday, July 2.