Main Street Working Group wants constructive public input next week

by beth on May 29, 2014

Last night, the Main Street Design Working Group expressed worries about necessary public comment and its pending deadline.

Next week, the group is inviting public comment from 7-9 on Monday, June 2 and Thursday, June 5. Member Claire Reynolds hoped that residents wouldn’t hold their objections to make a show at the June 18th state public hearing.

Others discussed keeping commenters on track. The town’s engineering consultants urged the group to minimize non-constructive rants. VHB’s Brian Brosnan referred to vague comments made at the DPW’s April 2nd public meeting.

Member and Main Street resident Stephen Phillips argued that people have the right to say they prefer simply repaving the road. He said it’s a valid perspective. Brosnan responded that kind of criticism is constructive. He worried about people saying they don’t like it or that it ruins “the rural character” without any specifics that they can address or fix.

For the past several weeks, the Main Street Design Working Group has been working with the Department of Public Works and VHB to better understand the proposed reconstruction project. They have been assessing details, issues, noted criticism and pushing for alternative options.

Last night, Selectman Bonnie Phaneuf asked the group when they would have a report available to the public. The answer wasn’t firm. Chair Martin Healey mentioned, but didn’t commit to, June 9th.

The group will appear before the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, June 3 to give them an update. The next BOS Meeting will be on June 17th, the night before the state hearing. Healey acknowledged that people need to see something in advance of that meeting.

Healey expects that a report will show areas of unanimity, consensus, and some splits. He hopes the report will cleary outline those positions.

At last night’s meeting, the group invited key stakeholders for questioning and feedback. They sought to better understand the police and fire chiefs public safety concerns.

Several times during the meeting, Healey pressed the DPW to weigh trade offs and let them know about wiggle room. In reference to a DPW advocated cross walk being for safety, Healey pointed out that a traffic light would be even safer. He said the object is to reasonably cover safety issues but with the least impact to the area.

One area of debate last night was the proposed full arm traffic light at the fire station. Currently, in traffic, the fire truck is forced to drive the wrong way down the eastbound lane to get around cars queued behind the light. (That is after cars blocking the drivewaay clear – often forcing them to back up.)

Under the proposal, the station would trigger a red light for Main Street traffic at the end of the station driveway. At the intersection of routes 30 and 85, Rout 30 westbound would have a green light. All other directions would have a red light. This would allow westbound traffic to clear, so the fire truck can safely proceed.

A detailed discussion seemed to bring the working group to agreement in support of a light. However, Selectman Paul Cimino questioned whether a simple pole with a flashing light that turns red would suffice. A VHB consultant argued that kind of light causes driver confusion and leads to accidents. He said it is against modern traffic regulations.

Healey asked to see the specific regulations to understand if there is any “wiggle room”. The group will follow up on that in next week’s meetings.

The group also asked for input from Pilgrim Church about proposed changes to the common and the look at their front entrance. Phil Davis, representing Pilgrim Church, spoke supportively of the project. He believed that any issues to the church were minor and could be worked out.

Freddie Gillespie, a church Deacon, criticized the timing of communications. She said she had just learned of the meeting through the blog. The meeting at which Davis planned to communicate with deacons won’t take place until after next week’s public comment period.

DPW Director Karen Galligan stated that any issues regarding the sidewalk at the church was something that could be worked out after the 25% design stage.

Agendas for next week’s meetings aren’t available yet. Stay tuned for details.

1 Paul Cimino May 29, 2014 at 1:21 PM

Folks,

Let me add my voice to the chorus encouraging any and all interested parties to make their views known to the Main Street working group next week on June 2nd and 5th. Over the several meetings the group already has had, I personally have been extremely impressed by the thoughtfulness and insight with which each of the members has approached the task under Mr. Healy’s leadership. They have done and are doing a significant amount of study, questioning and analysis about the current Main Street design (frankly, in my opinion, the reality of this group has eclipsed the theory, and our Town is lucky to have these individuals collaborating on this issue for our collective benefit). So again, if you have something to say about Main Street, please share it with them next week.

Paul Cimino

2 Anita Reeder May 30, 2014 at 8:14 AM

Where are the meetings being held on June 2 and 5 for public input? Thanks!

3 beth May 30, 2014 at 1:25 PM

The June 2nd Meeting was just posted as at 9 Cordaville Road, Cordaville Hall, Rooms A and B. The June 5th meeting is probably the same location. But it hasn’t been posted yet, so I’m not sure.

4 Anita Reeder May 30, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Thanks, Beth!!

5 Donna McDaniel May 30, 2014 at 11:15 PM

FYI… Thanks to Beth and also: All board meetings are posted on the town website under “Meeting Calendar” — the notice gives date, time, and place PLUS the agenda, sometimes even individual documents in the agenda. Every board has to submit their call for a meeting and the agenda with the Town Clerk and I think it’s no later than 48 hours in advance unless they can justify calling an emergency in less time. That’s so no “surprise” meetings! (And most are posted well in advance.)

6 Ann May 30, 2014 at 11:45 PM

“Next week, the group is inviting public comment from 7-9 on Monday, June 2 and Thursday, June 5. Member Claire Reynolds hoped that residents wouldn’t hold their objections to make a show at the June 18th state public hearing.

Others discussed keeping commenters on track. The town’s engineering consultants urged the group to minimize non-constructive rants. VHB’s Brian Brosnan referred to vague comments made at the DPW’s April 2nd public meeting.

Member and Main Street resident Stephen Phillips argued that people have the right to say they prefer simply repaving the road. He said it’s a valid perspective. Brosnan responded that kind of criticism is constructive. He worried about people saying they don’t like it or that it ruins “the rural character” without any specifics that they can address or fix.”

COMPARE AND CONTRAST Claire Reynolds makes sense and encourages residents to attend a meeting and to voice their concerns. No sarcasm, just an earnest invite and a hint that they would be heard.

The towns engineering consultants, to wit, Brian Brosnan, urges the group to stymie
commenters. His statements then don’t make sense ” He worried about people saying they don’t like it or that it ruins “the rural character” without any specifics that they can address or fix.” Not a Good Reason to Worry.
Townspeople at the April 2nd meeting were vervy articulate voicing their concerns and objections. There were no “vague comments” nor “non constructive rants”. Those statements sound insulting and divisive. We, the taxpayers are paying huge fees to him and VHB. We have been billed hourly and the total thusfar is >$500,000. Lastly, Southborough taxpayers have a right to decide the fate of their town, not these paid employees who live out of town and do not have a proud and vested interest in our community.

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