State officials looking at Park Central access options

by beth on September 11, 2018

Mass Department of Transportation and other agencies are looking at options for “better egress” for the Park Central development. The news was shared by Town Administrator Mark Purple at last week’s Board of Selectmen meeting.

As part of his regular report to the board, Purple told the public he had been contacted by the Housing and Economic Development Secretary, Jay Ash. Ash informed him that conversations were taking place at a state level with MassDOT and various other departments. According to Purple, the talks were initiated by Depietri.

Purple said the intent is to find egress that:

would alleviate some of the anticipated traffic on that parcel coming out onto local roads.

Purple and other Town officials are apparently not involved in the talks at this point. The TA said there is nothing concrete to report yet. If/when the state comes up with a proposal, Ash will seek time with the board to discuss it.

Park Central is the proposed site of 320 future condos and townhouses. Many area residents have expressed concern (or even outrage) over what they worry will be a dangerous increase in traffic on Flagg Road, Deerfoot Road, and other narrow, winding streets in the area – most tree lined without sidewalks.

Back in 2016, selectmen voted 3-1 to force the developer and MassDOT to figure out a solution to Park Central egress/access. Without it, selectmen said they would prohibit the development’s access to Flagg Road.*

The parcel between Flagg Road and Park Central road ( isn’t just limited to residential use. Last year, Purple shared that the developer was talking about plans to build another office park on the parcel. That triggered complaints by a member of the L’Abri Fellowship. Ben Keyes accused the Town of having closed door meetings on a proposal to build a road crossing through the Fellowship’s property.

Purple’s response included the following:

Moving forward, I would expect that any discussion of the Park Central location and any future development on that parcel will involve a discussion of additional egress. Given the limitations that MassDOT has put on access from Park Central Drive onto Route 9, which essentially drives all of the traffic on to local roads, it makes virtually any proposal at that location incredibly challenging to gain consensus.

The residential project at Park Central was approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals but is still tied up in multiple appeals.

*The 2016 votes were members Bonnie Phaneuf, Brian Shea and former member Paul Cimino vs member Dan Kolenda. (Current Chair Lisa Braccio and Vice Chair Brian Shifrin were not members of the board at that time.)

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 keeping tabs September 12, 2018 at 7:52 AM

Hi Beth-
Which meeting was did this take place? There wasn’t any indication on the agenda for Aug 14h, Sept 5h or 12th of this being included in the meeting. Just curious why such a hot topic wouldn’t be posted on the BOS agenda.

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2 beth September 12, 2018 at 8:42 AM

It was at the September 5th meeting. The agenda item was covered by the Town Administrator’s report. He simply updated the board on the communication he received.

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3 Matthew September 12, 2018 at 9:52 AM

It has been mentioned in a comment on a post on the Southborough Parents Facebook page that the use variance has expired for Park Central and that the town is wasting money in a legal battle.
Forgive my ignorance on the details but would someone please elaborate on the variance issue is one exists and also briefly explain any possible significance?
Thank you!

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4 beth September 12, 2018 at 10:13 AM

I’m not sure exactly what you are referring to. But my guess is that the reference is to a claim made in 2016, denied by the ZBA, and I’ve assumed part of ongoing court appeals. I would guess that the “wasted money” is Town Counsel defending the ZBA’s decision.

In fall 2016, some claimed that the variance expired because it wasn’t exercised within a year of approval. The ZBA denied that, backing the assertion of the Building Commissioner that the developer had up to a year after the linked 40B development’s special permit was approved and its appeal period expired.

You can read about the arguments made and the ZBA’s 11/3/16 decision here: http://www.mysouthborough.com/2016/11/04/zba-denies-park-central-appeals/

If you are referring to something else since – I don’t have that information. Anyone who does is welcome to chime in.

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5 beth September 12, 2018 at 10:18 AM

I should also point out that the Use Variance was granted specifically for one part of the project – the 158 townhouses. That was a separate from the later 40B approval for condo units on the same parcel. Though, the two decisions were linked in a complicated way – as is partially reflected in the Building Commissioner’s argument.

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6 Louise Barron September 14, 2018 at 4:32 PM

Let’s review the matter. Check this out on tape:
See the 1.38.30 minute mark on the following link, February 6, 2018 BOS Meeting (YouTube, Southborough Access Media)
This is the Town Administrator, Mr. Purple’s rather lengthy description of the proposal – plus the possibility of a north – south roadway from Park Central to Route 30:
1.38.30 Minute Mark
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pARVOjDwdns

Compare this with his comments to the abutting private property owner, whose land they seek to take to benefit the developer (outrageous), later in the tape during the public comment section. Back peddling? Reader, you be the judge.
2.17.00 Minute Mark
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pARVOjDwdns

The property owner, Mr. Keyes, asks Mr. Purple, Mr. Kolenda (then BOS chair), and the BOS how the conversation was initiated, regarding running a road from the north side of Park Central to Route 30. He points out that it is “disconcerting” that these conversations have been taking place without contacting them, floating this idea of creating that access, i.e. creating access for a private developer using taxpayer money (??!!) over property owned by a private landowner (??!!). He asks how did the idea / discussions get started — this reportedly is through a request from EDC to the Town Planner.

(BTW, EDC — if you are looking to take lessons on how to recuse yourself due to CONFLICTS OF INTEREST because your partners(?) / firms(?) work for the developer(??!!), you might look for advice from members of other boards who have had experience filling out these forms — oh no, wait a minute, did you forget to fill out the forms??)

Mr. Keyes also points out that they are “not interested in this at all” and that “the property is not for sale.” (and PS – the road would be going through a POND!! Does it get any more moronic than this? Oops, forgot to check that one out before running around. Sailboat anyone?)

Mark Purple states that he is “not aware that the conversation has been going on for long. . . not at his level. . .” (Now, get ready, hold your nose. . . and this is exactly why he should never be Town Manager, too much power for one person, too many hats. Public take note and beware!)

Contrast that statement with his rather lengthy description earlier in the meeting about the idea, and the possibility of a MASS WORKS GRANT (??!! TAXPAYER MONEY ??!!) to possibly fund the roadway. Really? Who, what, when, where, why? Where and when did those discussions get started – and by whom, including whom? Check out the 2016 BOS tape below!!)

Contrast that with his disavowal of any knowledge later in the same meeting and that this is merely an update from Planning Board at the 2.17.00 minute mark.
NOW, unbelievably, . . .compare all of this with the tape of the June 28, 2016 BOS meeting at the 23.06 minute mark:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmIpKcSHzzg&t=3003s

This is a conversation between Carolyn Dykema, BOS, Mr. Kolenda, and Mr. Cimino laying out in detail “creative ideas” including a proposed north south road(??!!) cutting through L’Abri land (that Mr. Kolenda suggests “would require some easements”).
Interestingly, Mr. Kolenda shrugs his shoulders at the latest February 8th BOS meeting giving the appearance of not knowing what Mr. Keyes is talking about, yet back in 2016 he is regurgitating access possibilities and how to pay for it (i.e. “expensive”) using taxpayer dollars(??!!)

NOW, contrast that with Ms. Dykema’s earlier comment warning the Board that it would be “virtually impossible” to find a technically feasible option based on discussions with MA-DOT at a 2016 meeting she attended with the developer and Mr. Cimino due to the “proximity” to the I-495 ramp. (BTW, that was supposed to be a meeting to include the public, but Mr. Cimino did not allow the public to attend the meeting. How about that Mr. Keyes!)

NOW, contrast that with the site plan posted behind the BOS at the this meeting on February 6, 2018. This plan depicts a proposed roadway from the proposed office building right ONTO the I-495 on-ramp(?). Say what??
MEMO TO TOWN HALL, MR. PURPLE, MR. CIMINO, MR. KOLENDA ET AL:
• Stop having these meetings and conversations behind the taxpayers’ / public’s back. It skirts the whole purpose and spirit of Open Meeting Law.
• You have lost major voter support (and your mind) if you think the taxpayers (through a grant or otherwise) is paying for a private developer’s roadway.
• Butt out: stop using taxpayer’s money, BOS’s valuable time, the public’s valuable time, and town hall resources, before any developer has figured out their own access and infrastructure issues. This is a landlocked parcel and a stupid investment. NOT OUR PROBLEM!

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7 disturbed September 17, 2018 at 9:13 PM

It is important to remember that items on the town administrator’s report do not have to be listed on the agenda. This allows controversial topics to be raised without public knowledge.

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