Before I recap the DPW meeting from Wednesday night – here are some important related details and meetings to note.
- A meeting to explain the Main Street Review Committee proposed by David Parry’s Citizen Petition Warrant Article will be held on Wednesday, April 9, 7:00 pm at the Library.
- The State Public Hearing has been moved to June 16, 2014.
- Residents that want to weigh in on whether the project should proceed while seeking state funds or come to a halt, should share their views with the Board of Selectmen. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. (If you want to be taken seriously, I assume you should provide your name and address.)
- New renderings of the project “before and after” have been shared by DPW (One example below, click here to see the rest)
On Wednesday night, the Department of Public Works held a meeting to explain the Main Street reconstruction project plans.
The room was packed with residents, many with questions and comments. Most of the commenters wanted to convey their displeasure with the plan. Some wanted to know how to improve it, while others wanted to stop it all together.
Residents had a chance to look at a large scale printout of the plan and new before and after renderings. Next, the town’s consultant, Brian Brosnan of VHB, pointed out changes made under the current plan, reasoning, and choices still to be made. Then he fielded questions.
Concerns shared revolved around safety issues, a fear of drawing more commuters and a perceived change to the character of the road.
Several residents stated that the plan, and especially the 4 left turn lanes at the intersection, would turn the road into a highway. They said the state wanted this to become a commuting corridor for people avoiding route 9 traffic. They also believed that it would increase the backup of traffic on Route 30 heading towards the reservoir.
Brosnan defended the intersection as justified for safety and ease of traffic flow based on their traffic projections for the area. He said it was designed in mind with 20 years of continuing development in Southborough. But his firm hasn’t studied traffic further up the road.
Main Street resident Karen Connell claimed to have come to the meeting with an open mind. But based on what she saw, she was certain, “This is not an appropriate plan for Southborough.”
Connell said that the traffic issue further down Main Street would effect all the surrounding streets, including School Street, Newton Street and Latisquama:
When there is a backlog. . . what do people do? They look for ways out. This is a highway, and you’re marrying a highway into a small village. . .
Former DPW Chief John Boland questioned the perceived issues. He asked the room why commuters would take the road as a highway if there was a bigger traffic problem up the road.
DPW Director Karen Galligan said that the intersection was originally designed with two left turn lanes. Additional lanes were added after that plan was questioned in past public meetings.
Residents also worried that the plan would ruin the historical character of Main Street. DPW Director Karen Galligan said that many of the details (the design of sidewalks, trees, and crosswalks, etc.) can still be resolved in the remaining 75% plan design period.
Resident, David Monroe, questioned the crowd’s concern for the district’s “historical nature”. He spoke about seeing “constant change” in the area of the Route 30 & 85 intersection over 56 years:
If we can improve that area traffic-wise to the benefit of everyone, there is no historical significance that’s going to be lost or impacted.
According to former Selectman David Parry, the only property owner of on the west side of Main Street that wants the drainage problems fixed is Fay School. He said they can pay for their own fix.
Main Street residents, Michael and Jane Jackson, said they welcome the ducks who come to their wet yard. They questioned the need for the project, but also apologized for not having gotten involved when the town sought community input on the project years ago.
Parry pointed to the sections of the plan, dismissing some as completely unnecessary and others as disastrous. He called the plan a classic example of how the state wastes money. The room applauded his exclamation:
Can you think of a more wasteful way to spend 6 million bucks!? It’s supposedly free, but we don’t want it.
There was some confusion in the room over answering residents asking VHB and selectmen, “How do we stop it?”
Yesterday, Karen Galligan told me that the Board of Selectmen are the commissioners of the road. While the DPW will take input on changes to the plans, the BOS will be the ones to determine if the project goes forward or halts.
The bottom line appears to be that Selectmen still need to get a better understanding of how the community feels as a whole. (Thus, as I said above, you can send your opinion to email@example.com.)
There was a lot more said than I can recap. To watch the meeting recorded by Southborough Access Media, click here.
At the Annual Town Meeting on April 16-17, Parry will be asking voters to support his initiative to form and fund a committee to review the project. The goal is to present a choice the following year for the town to vote on.
Based on comments at a recent BOS meeting, the board may seek to amend the article at Town Meeting to have a committee that reports to them.
Updated (4/4/14 3:22 pm) – Apparently, April 9th is a Wednesday. Oops.