No decision on Main Street redesign

A consultant from Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. presents design options for Main Street

The several dozen residents who turned out last night to hear the plan for the portion of Main Street in front of the Town Common left disappointed when the Board of Selectmen opted to defer their decision on the issue.

Selectmen talked with residents and experts for about an hour before saying they wanted input from the Planning Board before proceeding. The Planning Board previously expressed concern about design options that would require moving the stone wall along the common.

At issue is how to accommodate parking along Main Street west of Route 85. Carving out space for parking spots would require either moving the historic stone wall along the south side of the common, or taking land from the property owners on the other side of Main Street, or both.

Department of Public Works Superintendent Karen Galligan said they favored the option of moving the stone wall further north into the common while leaving property lines on the south side of Main Street intact. Many of the residents gathered at the meeting agreed.

“It’s not going to inconvenience anyone by putting expansion on the common side. The best thing we could do for the wall is to move it and rebuild it,” Main Street resident Fred Williams said.

David Falconi, chairman of the Historic Commission, said the commission voted unanimously on Monday night that the wall should not be moved, preferring that the common remain untouched. “Everyone who has fought in a war in this town is honored on that spot. It’s not like an empty lot that can be hacked up,” he said.

Susan Stone, who grew up across the street from the common and now runs a business from the same home, said taking land from her historic 1732 house would have an even greater historical impact than moving the wall. “I just don’t see what the big deal is in giving up space in the common. The stone wall is falling apart,” she said.

“I love the history of the common, but I think the stone wall is unsightly at best,” Selectman Bill Boland said. “The wall needs to be repaired, and there’s no one I’d rather see pay for it than the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.” State money will be used to fund the project, including moving and rebuilding the wall if that option is selected and approved.

Boland said he is in favor of creating parking spaces along Main Street. “I don’t want to eliminate parking for business that have been long-standing tax payers and need parking to run their businesses,” he said.

But Phaneuf said providing parking for the business along Main Street could be “a slippery slope” and might set a precedent for other business to make similar requests.

In the end, Phaneuf recommended delaying the board’s decision until the Planning Board has an opportunity to weigh in on the latest design options. She also wanted Selectman Sal Giorlandino to participate in the vote. Giorlandino was not at last night’s meeting due to a last-minute family matter.

Once a design option is selected, MassHighway will need to hold hearings and approve the plans. Galligan said she hopes construction will begin in 2014.

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13 years ago

I still believe that converting a portion of St Marks land on the corner of rte 85 and Main Street , is the solution for everyone in the donwtown Library, Morris Funeral Home, Community House, Town Hall, even for St Marks . If designed as a parking lot with flowers, shrubs and a few benches it would enhance the corner lot. I hope the Committee will seriously look into this conversion. and leave the stone wall etc in place..

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