Letter: Main Street Project (by Selectman Bill Boland)

by Beth Melo on April 15, 2014

[Ed note: My Southborough accepts signed letters to the editor submitted by Southborough residents. Letters may be emailed to mysouthborough@gmail.com.]

To the Editor:

I do not usually post to blogs. I think this blog has continued to do a great job keeping the town informed. I do not, however, like when posted comments turn nasty, rude or spread misinformation or attack others under aliases and made up names such as recently when it appeared that the same person was posting as up to eight different identities. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, this was discovered and most of those comments were deleted.

As an elected official, you learn to grow thick skin and soon realize that if people are determined to cause problems and spread misinformation it is very difficult to deal with and correct. Negative and misinformative commenters will just keep responding as I expect will be the case in response to this letter.

It is unfortunate that the issue of the reconstruction of Main Street has taken on such a negative and hurtful tone so I must try to correct some of the misinformation that is being broadcast as the “real truth”. Mr. Parry has put out a 25 page document that is more misinformative than it is informative. This is hard to understand because Mr. Parry participated in almost all of the over 20 public meetings. He was very helpful to the neighbors in keeping them informed and he is well documented in correspondence to the Selectmen as supporting the final project, thanking the BOS and DPW for cooperating with the residents and coming up with a much improved plan and stating the residents supported going forward with the plan. Some minor details have been changed since the approval of the initial plan but they, in fact, have actually been improvements such as reducing the size of the intersection.

I really don’t think that you want to read a lengthy rebuttal so I’ll try not to be too wordy but fear I will fail as there is much to address and some main points need to be addressed.

  • “This is the State’s Plan”. The Main Street Project has been being studied for far too many years. It is being referred to by those who are now against it as the “State Plan”. Make no mistake about it, this is the Town’s plan. It was devised over more than 20 public meetings over several years with many citizens participating. Originally, State standards were far too strict for a local project like this but Mass Highway revised those standards in 2006 allowing far more flexibility for projects such as ours. We then were comfortable with proceeding with the hope of securing State and Federal Funding and followed that direction. A plan was agreed to and was advanced to the State. Mr Parry, who was present at most meetings, played a large role in keeping the neighbors informed. As I stated, when we finalized the plan he was in favor of proceeding with it and indicated so in writing. By the way, The State standards book states “The emphasis is to ensure that investments in transportation infrastructure encourage projects that are sensitive to the local context while meeting the important needs of the people they serve.” They understand the local values and try to accommodate them. In fact the State has allowed several waivers to their guidelines to accommodate the Town.
  • “This plan is overkill it is too wide and will destroy our Town”. In fact, our Town Code suggests a main road like this should be 38 feet wide not the proposed 30. Regardless of it being our Main Street, it is also Route 30. It won’t become a major thoroughfare, it already is and has been one. General Knox did not choose this route to travel through Town because it was a scenic country road. It was one of the main roads and the fastest way to Boston. Regardless, the changes have been designed to keep this route as narrow as possible while allowing for much needed safety improvements for motor vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. Travel lanes will be eleven feet wide, (compare that to average parking spaces that are 9 feet 6 inches wide). Shoulders will be four feet on each side allowing to safely share the road with cyclists. Sidewalks will have raised granite curbing to define the road and protect pedestrians. Sidewalks will be much safer and completely ADA, (handicap) compliant. The plan does suggest a much wider intersection than we currently have however, the left turn lanes, improved turning radii, crosswalks and improved traffic lights and other improvements will make this a much safer intersection for everyone, not just motor vehicles. 
  • “It is so bad the Town fired the original Engineering firm” . In fact the original plan had some issues and as well it was not approved by the State. The contract was complete. The company was not fired. The Town decided to move forward with a new Engineering firm, VHB, our current consultant. The original plan though, included more asphalt, a larger intersection and would cut down more trees yet all parties, residents included, had agreed to proceed with this plan for State approval. Regarding trees, more trees will be planted that those that are removed and the magnolia tree at the Community House will be moved not taken down.
  • “Only a few residents showed up to the meetings”. In fact many residents came to all of the meetings to offer their opinions and help the Selectmen and DPW come up with a plan acceptable to all. Abutters along Main Street were all notified of the meetings. To be sure, it includes many compromises as many people had different ideas. There was also a lot of participation from the Planning Board and Historical Society. In the end, an agreement was reached on a plan to forward to the State with the knowledge that we would be able to fine tune it before we reached 75% design.
  • “No one has ever wanted this”. In fact, the original plan did not include work west of Fay School to Sears Road. This was added after considerable concern and requests by the residents. Everyone agreed to add that section and there was no opposition to the final design for this section. Mr Parry participated in most of the meetings and helped keep the neighbors informed on the meetings and discussion. We have spent a much larger amount of money on this project because the plans were redrawn many times to offer options for the neighbors and the Town to consider. The plan was divided into different sections to make it easier to concentrate on specific sections. Many options were considered for all sections and in the end it was agreed to move forward with the entire plan.
  • “The Town completely ignores the Downtown Business District”. Work will be done on the Downtown District but will be not utilize State/Federal funding due to problems such as Mauro’s Market being located right up against the sidewalk.
  • “This will cause far more traffic to travel this road”. If you travel this road, you know it is failing. The intersection is unsafe for not only school buses but other vehicles trying to turn left and to travel safely through it. It is unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists. We have a lot of traffic. A lot of the traffic is from residents or people bringing their children to one of the schools, including the private schools in the area. There is certainly traffic from neighboring towns commuting to work or the train station. Added growth between Route 85 the intersection of Route 9 and Route 30 in Westborough will bring additional traffic regardless. Traffic from the West however has to decide to get off Route 9 and travel Route 30 at the intersection in Westborough. The changes will not cause more people to make that change in their commute. The road does not become significantly straighter or wider. In some areas the travel lanes actually become narrower.
  • “The easements required will never get past a Town Meeting vote”. This is a scare tactic. Town Meeting approves easements by themselves or as part of new roads almost annually. We are talking about easements, not land takings. Required easements won’t be finalized until the final plan is established. Some may be to address that there is a utility pole on someone’s property that will be replaced.This plan is approved by the State and will be funded. It is currently scheduled for the first quarter of fiscal 2017. The normal timeline calls for the 25% design hearing to be conducted by the State in June. This should have been sooner but was delayed due to the States inability to have it sooner. Changes are allowed between the 25-75% design stage. This is when the landscaping and other aesthetic components are considered including trees, sidewalk location and design, grass areas and other items are considered. Citizen participation is strongly encouraged at this stage. This project is proceeding according to schedule and is not being rushed all of a sudden.This project is not my plan. It is not the DPW Superintendents plan. It is the Town’s plan and involved many residents, officials and board members to design it. It is a good plan for the Town. We have already had a “peer review” second opinion as VHB is the second consultant to work with the Town.I will not support Mr. Parry’s articles at Town Meeting. We seem to want to study things to death in this Town. We already have a “peer review” second opinion from VHB, the current consultant.

I don’t know why Mr. Parry has changed his mind on the project. It is clear to me that his goal is to kill the State/Federal funded project. He has organized a very vocal opposition. Even when corrected at Public meetings, he continues to put out misinformation on the project. He has represented himself as a Town Selectman to the State, (all members of the BOS listened to the voice message in which he stated this). Mr. Parry has also threatened several Town Board Members and Officials if they do not support him. This has been done at public meetings, via email and written correspondence. This is not acceptable behavior. I believe he has taken this approach because there is not enough support for his desire to have all of the utilities put underground. To be clear, Mr. Parry is on record at the January 6th Planning Board meeting as requesting that they put an article forward at Town Meeting for a bylaw requiring undergrounding, to be paid through surcharges on everyone in Town’s utility bills. He now states it is not related yet he continues to bring it up in the information that he distributes. This may also be retribution against the Town because Mr. Parry attempted to convert his property on Main Street into condominiums and filed documents with the Registry of Deeds to do so. He was advised by the Town that his accessory apartment must follow the conditions approved by the ZBA and is not allowed to be considered a separate property. He was also denied in his request to remove the restriction that the main property be owner occupied.

Having participated in the State MPO hearings to get it funded, and seeing all of the other projects lobbying to get on the TIP Program, I believe that forming this review committee and the resulting delay will cause Southborough to lose the State/Federal funding. No one can say for sure as it is a large organization that votes on the projects but I have been told by members that I know that they think we would get removed and it would be hard to get back on the list.

To simply repave this road, or as some suggest, only repave between Route 85 and Latisquama Road would be negligent. The road is falling apart. The sidewalks need to be brought up to current standards. Additional work is needed to make this area safer for all who use it. Repaving and repairing Main Street properly using only Town funds would, in the end, not look very different from the current plan and we would pay for it ourselves. The proposed State/Federal funded project will not ruin historic Southborough and will in fact, improve it by adding some additional land to the Town Common and rebuilding the deteriorating and poorly repaired stone wall along Main Street.

Thank you for your time.

Bill Boland
Member, Southborough Board of Selectmen

 

 

1 Steve Phillips April 15, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Mr. Boland, I appreciate your summary of the issues. I am wondering how you can say “This plan is approved by the State and will be funded” and later say “I believe that forming this review committee and the resulting delay will cause Southborough to lose the State/Federal funding.” Could you please clear up the confusion? Has the town received a formal commitment letter from the state, or have they made any other commitment that this plan will be funded? It has been my understanding that our inclusion on the TIP list does not constitute any guarantee that this project will ever be funded. Could you please let us know when or if we will receive a formal commitment of funding from the State or Federal government?

2 Ferris April 15, 2014 at 11:06 AM

Thanks Bill. Keep up the good work. The DPW is doing a fine job and a good partner to the residents on this end of main street. We support the plan 100%. It is quite disappointing to find the same residents creating problems in our town time and time again. It is distracting us from economic growth and prosperity.

3 Tim Martel April 15, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Mr. Boland,

Its going to take some time to digest this lengthy rebuttal. Though as I respect your choice not to debate on this blog, I won’t offer counterpoints here. Let me know if you feel otherwise, and I will oblige. But, in the meantime, I would like you to consider two points of practicality:

1. Do you really want a large group of opponents to the State-funded plan to attend the State design meeting in June? Because sinking the Town Meeting review committee will go far in making that outcome a reality. You have suggested that a review committee will harm state funding, but I predict that not having a review committee will be far more detrimental to the likelihood of obtaining state funding.

2. Given the high hurdle of a future 2/3 Town Meeting vote over easements, I would think that you would be a major supporter of a Town Meeting review committee. Because you could then take your arguments to this review committee and try to convince them to come back to Town Meeting with a recommendation for a State-funded plan. Because, in my honest opinion, that is your best path to winning a 2/3+1 vote.

I understand how hard you have worked on the State-funded plan over the years. And I admire your dedication to the Town. Although our opinions widely diverge on this project, I believe that an independent Town Meeting review committee – that will look at all perspectives and dig out all the relevant information – is exactly the kind of forum wherein a middle ground can be found. So I support this warrant article to form one.

4 Al Hamilton April 15, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Mr. Boland

Thank you. I think your detailed description of how this project has developed and vetted are well worth consideration as is the potential threat to state funding that a Yes vote will bring.

I believe we should stop any further design activities, and give the BOS time to see if additional compromise is possible prior to the State Review. The BOS should present a plan that can secure state funding and then we should hold a special town meeting to secure the required easements. If the town votes for the easements then that is evidence that the project has wide support if not then on to plan B.

5 Anna April 15, 2014 at 12:38 PM

Thank you Bill. I greatly appreciate your valuable perspective on this. As a resident of this town who cares about its appearance, I also support the original plan we discussed and approved as a community.

With finances continuing to be tight going forward, we should proceed as planned to retain state funding. I am dismayed by and question the motives of the abrupt campaign to rehash this well-vetted project if it jeopardizes our state funding. Every day I am in that intersection one way or another and see unsafe situations and backups for want of turn lanes. We need this.

It is hard to imagine now, but having been through the before and after of a nearly identical project before in Wellesley, it is a real upgrade in aesthetics to complete this work. Some are implying that it would be the opposite for Southborough. I wish that I had before and after pictures of the work on Rt 16 in Wellesley because that was not the case. Similarly a few stone walls had to be moved and trees planted but it turned out so nice. Driving through town, it is sometimes hard to see the Southborough’s beauty as my eyes are drawn to the crumbing roadway and sidewalks.

The safety benefit for us is real as well. As it stands, we can’t bike as a family even with older children to Mauro’s due to the poor roads and insufficient shoulders. Please neighbors let’s get this done so a people can get to a school, the library, work, SHP, or Mauro’s safely in the car, on foot, or on a bike.

6 new resident April 15, 2014 at 2:26 PM

I would like to thank Anna for her comment regarding bike safety.

I don’t know all the history but it surprises me to keep reading comments that refer to “we,” “we all,” “common,” etc. Except for a couple of holidays, the area in question does not seem to really be a gathering place. I see a few people out walking their dogs and some activity around Mauro’s and SHOP. Making access safe for bicycles and fixing the drainage issues would make it more pleasant to visit the area. It is not functioning as a true “common” at present. We seem to be mostly concerned about a couple of private residences and a field for a private school that most of our kids don’t attend.

I know DPW has come in for a lot of criticism here, but they are running the true “town common” in Southborough — the transfer station!

7 beth April 15, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Interesting and amusing point. The Transfer Station is where people go to reach other residents – from fundraising sales to getting signatures!

8 Steve Phillips April 15, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Before we get too carried away about how beautiful this project is going to be, I would ask that you please take a look at the intersection of Main Street and Parkerville road on the current 25% design drawings. You will see that the line of mature trees along the edge of the Burnett estate running down Parkerville is being replaced by a large drainage system containing a series of five rainwater catch basins/pools. Please don’t take my word for it — look at the schematics and judge for yourself how attractive this is going to be.

Also, we all should remember that anything which you could call beautiful about this project will be paid for by the residents of Southborough, not the state or the federal government. The TIP funds will pay for the asphalt, the three 35-foot signal booms (I think), and other costs related to the roadway itself. Anything on top of that comes out of yours and my pockets. I assume that a town like Wellesley was willing to spend extra money to make their road look better. Are Southborough taxpayers willing to do the same?

9 southsider April 15, 2014 at 1:20 PM

This was the first time that I heard that there is actually a recording of Mr. Parry claiming to be a Southboro Selectman in his calls to a State Agency.
And all the Selectmen heard the recording…I assume that recording is what moved them to rebuke Mr. Parry publicly.

interesting

10 who is embarrassed now? April 15, 2014 at 5:17 PM

from mysouthborough:

“In an email reply to Boland, Parry said the letter was delivered to his home by an “embarrassed” sergeant of the Southborough police department. Parry denied misrepresenting himself, saying that the identified himself as a former selectman who was running for selectman.”

and then there were 3…or at least should be 3

11 My Two Cents April 15, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Thank you to everyone who has taken time to express their thoughts, opinions, desires and suggestions about the Main Street Reconstruction Project. Folks are obviously very passionate about this subject and have strong feelings for supporting or not supporting this issue.

One thing I believe that is very obvious to everyone is the lack of information and data about this project. Frankly there have been many posts, comments, public speeches and documents spreading much misinformation, assumptions, speculation and hysteria. Enough already!!! Let’s stick with the facts and be transparent about this project and approach. If you have a vested interested either for or against the project, just come out and be honest. I have no problem with a homeowner or business owner stating they are worried about their property value, loss of land or other issues. These are real concerns. I do have a problem when people hide behind a “smokescreen” of items such as historic preservation, environmental concern or safety. Not that any of these aren’t real concerns; but it is obvious many people are using them as reasons to fault this project.

Also, let’s please address this project as a whole community. People should (and many) do share their opinions, suggestions and comments about the project, but please don’t speak on behalf of large groups of the community or the community itself. While I am sympathetic to the homeowners on Main Street and other abutting properties, this project is bigger than just this group. We all use Main Street regularly and have a right to have all our concerns weighed equally.

As far as I am concerned, I am not really decided on this project at this point. Still too many unanswered questions. I do believe a great deal of work and diligence has been put into the “State” project at this point, including looking at historical, environmental, safety and aesthetic issues. I also feel strongly we need to carefully consider the “State” Plan as a community (not just abutters on one street) before we decide to discard this resource. As someone who worked for the State for many years, I can tell you if we lose this opportunity for State funding, it will be very difficult to get the chance again.

The Warrant Article for Town Meeting to appoint a Committee and associated funding should be withdrawn for now. The proposal for the Board of Selectmen to appoint a Working Group to analyze specifically the “State” Plan and see if modifications could be made that would be more amenable to the entire town should move forward. This would give the Working Group approximately 8 weeks to do the analysis and come back to the Selectmen with their findings/recommendations. This report should be made at public hearing open to all residents. If their findings show an overwhelming lack of community wide support for the “State” Plan, then we can decide as a Town that we do not want to pursue the State/Federal funding. However, if the report shows strong community wide support for the concept of the “State” Plan and allows for some modifications, we should move forward in that direction.

I believe this approach is a win for the Town, it gives us flexibility to set our future, be it involving State funding or not. If we do not pursue the State funding, we could then appoint another Working Group/Committee or continue the work of the aforementioned Working Group to further develop a locally funded plan with input from the entire community.

As we approach the eve of Town Meeting, take a few moments and reflect on this project…Before getting up to speak or taking a vote, think about what the overall project purpose is (whichever plan is ultimately selected) and think about its overall impacts on the whole community. Let’s not get mired in petty politics, bickering or selfish interests. We are all in this together and will have to collectively live with what the overall community decides! Please do your civic duty and participate in the decision making process of Town Meeting! Thank you!!!

12 Ann April 15, 2014 at 3:35 PM

Here it is, a day before town meeting and answers to questions re: Main Street have Not been posted as promised. I have seen no entries on My Southborough, which does a fine job disseminating information to our residents. If there is an unknow blog with such answers, please let us know.

Several questions were asked at meetings re: the Main Street reconstruction. Either, those questions could Not, nor will Not be answered. How are we, the townspeople expected to make informed decisions if we are not provided with All the facts. This information should Not be Withheld and our town officials are remiss in not providing such.

13 John Rooney April 15, 2014 at 4:03 PM

southsider, you are correct. We each heard the voice mail individually and the recording still exists. Each selectman then independently reviewed the letter to Mr. Parry before it went out. In-hand service was the proper vehicle of delivery so that Mr. Parry got the message immediately and verification of its delivery could not later be contested.

I would urge everyone to participate in town government and attend TM.

14 Resident Charlie April 15, 2014 at 4:18 PM

Wow!! I knew the Cool-aid was tainted. So, I read Mr. Bolands email and a couple things come to mine. First, I wouldn’t believe a word Mr Parry says (if) he placed that phone call and misrepresented himself as a selectman, I’m not an attorney but that must be illegal? At the very least morally and ethically wrong. However, if all three selectmen heard that voice mail it must be true. Secondly, threatening public officials?!! This sounds illegal also. This is like the bully in the playground. No one should ever think it’s okay to bully, threaten and intimidate, my god! The folks who listen to this man should be ashamed of themselves if they are aware of any of this behavior or conduct that Mr Boland has stated quite clearly. Mr Boland, thank you for spelling it out, you’ve mad it PERFECTLY CLEAR.

15 John Kendall April 15, 2014 at 5:34 PM

Thanks to Mr. Boland for publishing his side of the story. I certainly clarifies a lot of questions I had about Mr. Parry’s side of things.

16 Steve Phillips April 15, 2014 at 7:03 PM

OK, so now I’m really confused.

I just went to the Westboro Post Office to mail my taxes and drove east on route 30 on my way home. All through Westboro as you travel east, route 30 has two travel lanes with very narrow marked shoulders ranging from six inches to two feet wide, and no sidewalks on either side of the road. Once you get into Southborough (still coming east on route 30), the shoulders increase to four feet but there is still no sidewalk on either side of the road. Just after Northborough Road the shoulders shrink again to about a foot in width, with no sidewalks on either side. This is the point where the speed limit drops to 35 miles per hour.

As soon as we get to Fay school, however, the shoulders widen again and there is a full sidewalk on the south side of Main Street. Once you drive east through the route 30/85 intersection, there are two-foot shoulders and sidewalks on both the north and south sides of Main Street, with the north sidewalk separated from the road by a grass buffer strip for additional safety.

So how come it is only OUR section of this road — the one which already has two sidewalks — which is supposed to have all of these pedestrian safety issues? As I drive down this road, it’s plain to see that the safest section of Main Street for pedestrian access is the area from Fay school to the east — in other words, the very section of road we are planning to dig up and rebuild because it is “too unsafe.” I sense a double standard at work here.

Why is there no hue and cry being raised about the section of route 30 west of Sears Road? That road sure doesn’t look anywhere near 38 feet wide to me, and the complete lack of sidewalks and tiny shoulders makes the western section of route 30 hazardous to both pedestrians and bikers.

I am sure that the route 85/30 intersection could benefit from some MINOR changes to increase pedestrian safety and traffic flow. As we know, absolutely no maintenance has been performed on this section of Main Street for over ten years while we’ve spent at least $450,000 on engineering fees to date. Perhaps if we had taken a tiny fraction of the money we’re wasting and spent it on updating this road we wouldn’t have this problem.

So what have we gained for half a million dollars and counting? We currently occupy a tentative spot three years away on the TIP list, and our position there is so precarious that we are being threatened with getting kicked off the list if we do something as simple as establishing a review committee. Let’s be clear that this review committee would do nothing whatsoever to delay this project — the June 18th state hearing will go on as scheduled, and if we want to keep throwing good money after bad, we can keep paying our engineering consultants to work on this design while we decide if the TIP funding is worth saving. Can somebody please explain why the very existence of this committee is so threatening to the Mass DOT? Is there something else we should know about this project that they are afraid we will find out?

I understand that if we decline TIP funding for this project that this will leave some people with egg on their face due to the large amount of money we’ve spent already. However, that money has come and gone. And there is another unpleasant surprise around every corner with the TIP project — open-ended costs to the town which nobody seems to be able to nail down, drainage pits in the side yard of the historic Burnett estate, and a host of unanswered questions about the most basic details of this project.

Former selectman Bonnie Phaneuf has repeatedly stated that this is not the same plan which was voted on by the Board of Selectmen, of which she was a member at the time. In his recent letter to selectmen, Ray Hokinson described several recent design changes which could not have possibly been approved by the BOS, since the last vote taken by the BOS occurred in summer of 2011. The truth is that this plan has continued to evolve over the past several years without proper oversight by the Board of Selectmen.

Can anyone point to minutes of any selectmen’s meeting where the drainage pits at Parkerville Road were ever discussed or approved? Even at the April 2 informational meeting this area was never discussed — we were told by VHB that the drainage system had not been designed yet. But there it is in all of its ugly glory — right on the 25% design plans we received from VHB.

At this point, I think our town would be foolish to continue relying on the half-truths and empty promises we’re hearing about this project. We need to understand — before the State hearing on June 18th if we can — exactly how much money it is going to cost our town to continue chasing this funding for a project which keeps receding off into the distance. The one thing I can tell you for sure is that when we finally learn the real total costs to our town for this supposedly “free” project, we will be flabbergasted. That’s the only safe bet in this whole sorry episode.

17 Louise Clough April 15, 2014 at 7:57 PM

thank you for your comments Mr. Boland.

18 new resident April 16, 2014 at 12:11 AM

In answer to Mr. Phillips, I don’t see any way the costs to the town can be quantified if this cycle of revisions is continued indefinitely, which is what he and other commenters seem to be proposing.

It is making my head spin to read all of these threads but there seems to be a vicious cycle at work with this project, as follows:

(1) Engineers are retained and they present plan X to residents.
(2) Abutter A objects to some element of the plan that affects his/her property, e.g. parking, tree removal, drainage, etc.
(3) In order to keep peace in the town, a decision is made by Town Board Y to accommodate Abutter A.
(4) More money is spent on the engineers who come back and tell the town that because of engineering factors previously unknown to Town Board Y (none of whom are civil engineers), some new element will need to be added to the plan to accommodate Abutter A’s demands.
(5) Many town residents object that they “were not informed” of this change and demand to see more options.

Cycle, rinse, and repeat.

We are never going to make everyone happy and every time we make changes it costs more money. I agree with Mr. Boland that we can’t let this project spin out of control. This is as close to a consensus as we are going to get and it makes sense to go forward with what we have, particularly if outside funding is at risk.

19 new resident April 16, 2014 at 7:21 AM

A simpler way to put it — the town is acting like a very stupid poker player vs the Main St residents as the “house.” We keep anteing up in the form of more engineering studies and then folding immediately and hoping for a better hand (in the form of the next committee and study). I wasn’t here but I am guessing that this is why the planning costs have been so high.

Mr. Phillips, I apologize if my remarks above to you sound harsh; you do sound sincerely committed to the town, but you have to realize that you are not a credible source of information due to your personal interests in this matter.

Mr. Parry, I cannot say the same for you as your intentions seem to be deceptive. I do not want to pay more taxes to help you establish a rental property on Main Street. I do not want to pay extra on my utility bills because you want to move the wires underground. I hope other residents will not be influenced by your bullying and misinformation.

20 John Kendall April 16, 2014 at 10:25 AM

I absolutely agree. And Mr. Parry’s response today to Mr. Boland’s letter posted yesterday is the icing on the cake. I think Mr. Parry should step back and re-evaluate what his true plans are, especially since he is in the run for Selectman. Southborough doesn’t need a self centered person running his own cockeyed agenda representing the town in any way, shape, or form.

21 Jeff April 16, 2014 at 10:35 AM

New Resident, As a life long resident I can assure you with confidence we are not influenced by My Perry’s private agenda.

22 Karen Connell April 16, 2014 at 11:42 AM

What I really want to know is how much (approximately) will either plan cost the town, more specifically, the tax payers?

Does anyone know?

23 Al Hamilton April 16, 2014 at 2:26 PM

Karen

I will take a stab at it.

The “state plan” – The numbers I have heard are on the order of 1-1.5 million for design. This includes traffic lights, a more or less new road, drainage, and sidewalks.

If we do some form of “local plan” we can refer to:

http://capitolfax.com/summary.pdf These are 2010 numbers, which estimate the cost per mile of various road building/rebuilding scenarios. Mass construction is probably more.

The project is about 1.25 miles long.

Minimal milling and resurfacing of a rural road is about $500,000 per mile or about $625,000 according to the estimate. I agree with Mr. Boland that this is not adequate. It does not include sidewalks, any turning lanes, curbing, or any drainage work for instance.

Full rebuilding is closer to $3.5 million per mile. or roughly $4 million for this project (not including drainage or intersections).

There is a lot of room for guess work with respect to a local plan but I would be surprised if we could do a quality job for less than what we will spend on the design fees for the “State Job”.

24 Karen Connell April 16, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Mr. Hamilton, I can always count of you to make a careful and factual response. Thank you! I have come out vocally in opposition to the new road design, call it what you’d like…Stat Plan, Local Plan, Evolving Plan…..however, I keep trying to convince myself otherwise. What would be very helpful is to know how much the proposed plan will cost in it’s entirety. In other words, how much are 7 easements, concrete sidewalks, trees and other bells and whistles. It is that figure that will solidify my mind one way or the other. Does anyone know? I mean an estimate of course we have no way of knowing for certain.

25 Al Hamilton April 17, 2014 at 11:10 AM

Ms. Connell

Let me take a SWAG at a few of these items:

1. Easements – In total we are talking about easements on approx 1 Acre of land. A 1 acre building lot might be worth about $200,000. An Easement is not a taking in full but only a subset of the rights associated with the land so it will be substantially less than this sum. I suspect that some easements will be procured for a nominal sum (eg where the easement benefits the abutter) and some will have to be procured at “market” price. If I had to put a stake in the ground I would guesstimate about $25,000 to $50,000. There are other costs (eg legal) but I think this is a reasonable number.

2. Sidewalks – If we just replace what exists based on the costs above I think the following is fair. 1.5 Miles of sidewalk at about $125,000/mile is about $187,500. This would not include any sidewalk extension which is in the “Locally Developed, State Funded” plan.

3. Road Repaving- Rt 30 West of 85 – If we do a “Milling and Resurfacing” that will run about $500,000/mile. This section is about a mile long so $500,000. Note that this is just to replace what exists.

4. Rt 30 Ease of 85. I do not think we can just “Mill and Resurface” this section because it is in terrible shape. If we did a full rebuild (again of just what exists) this section is about ¼ of a mile and the tables suggest $2.5 million per mile or about $625,000.

So, my best uneducated guesstimate is that just to replace what exists will cost us in the neighborhood of $1.3 to $1.4 million. However, this does not include some important items:
Engineering Costs
ADA Compliance
Emergency Vehicle Signaling
Drainage
Safety Improvements
Turning Lands
Signals

This is a major road in our community and I believe it would be irresponsible to not address a number of these issues.

Every time I look at this the clear conclusion I come to is that any responsible “Locally Developed, Locally Funded” project will cost Southborough Taxpayers significantly more than the “Locally Developed, State Funded” project. If I could come to a different conclusion I might feel differently.

26 Tim Martel April 17, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Al, how much of those costs in your breakdown would be covered by Chapter 90 funds from the state? Its not correct to imply that a Local Plan would not have State funds. Can you please shed light on this?

27 Al Hamilton April 17, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Tim

Each year the town receives a sum of money for road maintenance from the state (Chapter 90 money). To this we typically add a sum (this year we just voted $300,000. This money is banked until it reaches about $1 million and then a road contract is released. Right now this is about every other year.

It depends on how you look at it but, we will receive no extra Chapter 90 money if we decide on a “Locally Developed Locally Funded” plan vs a “Locally Developed, State Funded” Plan. So to the extent that a “Locally Developed, Locally Funded” plan has a Total Local Cost that is more than the “Locally Developed, State Funded” plan (and I believe this is the case), the difference will have to be made up by Southborough Taxpayers.

28 Steve Phillips April 16, 2014 at 5:29 PM

Mr. Hamilton, thanks for starting this discussion. It is great to see some real dollar figures being placed on the cost of each alternative.

The money our town pays as our portion of the “state-funded” plan may include several other potential financial obligations in addition to your estimate of $1 million to $1.5 million in design costs. These additional costs fall into at least three categories: 1) town compensation for permanent easements taken from property owners; 2) paying for the parts of the project which the state won’t fund; and 3) resurfacing of sections of Main Street during the intervening years before the state project is started, as Ms. Galligan has stated will be necessary.

We should also determine whether wetlands-related changes, such as the proposed drainage basins on Parkerville Road, are going to require review under the Mass Environmental Protection Act (MEPA), and if so whether the town is responsible for costs related to MEPA approval.

Some of these costs may be easier to pin down while others might need a range of estimates. For example, if we knew the total square footage of property easements which will be taken, we could apply a range of standard values per square foot to find a cost range of what the town will have to pay for permanent easements.

Reverting to normal maintenance would involve a separate set of costs. Based on the estimates you’ve provided, resurfacing the entire stretch of road would cost somewhere between $625,000 and $4 million, depending on how much of the road needed resurfacing or total repair. I understand that the “state-funded” plan calls for resurfacing Main Street by recycling the existing road bed while digging down only a foot or two, so I hope we would have the ability and expertise to handle any reconstructed areas the same way ourselves to keep costs down. Other improvements (drainage, additional sidewalks, etc.) could be costed out separately so we can understand the price and value of each proposed improvement if we went back to normal maintenance of this road.

If the data I’m looking at is current, the state/federal funded Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) plan is proposing to fund $4,537,424 in 2018 for the reconstruction of Main Street from Park Street to Sears Road (MassDOT TIP Project #604989).

One of the primary tasks of any committee or working group, whether appointed by Town Meeting or by the selectmen, will be to determine the total cost to our town for the “state-funded” plan over and above the funds provided by the state/federal governments. These numbers are too important to calculate by guesswork, since every million dollars we’re off by amounts to $100 out of the pocket of every resident of Southborough. If we get this calculation wrong, we will cost the taxpayers of Southborough a lot of money.

While there are other benefits and drawbacks to each design approach, I believe that the direct financial impact to our town will be the deciding factor which guides our choices over whether to accept TIP funding. I look forward to finding out these numbers over the next couple of months before the state hearing.

29 Al Hamilton April 17, 2014 at 8:52 AM

Mr. Phillips

I was actively involved in my neighborhoods negotiations regarding a major residential development (about 60 houses) in my neighborhood where there were a large number of wetlands issues. I ended up knowing more about wetlands than I ever wanted to know.

I am certain that under either scenario there will be wetlands issues. This means that wetlands will have to be delineated and classified and permits including state permits will have to be secured. This will include plans for protecting wetlands (eg hay bales and temporary drainage) will have to be engineered.

This sort of permitting is typically part of what you get for your engineering dollars. I would assume that in the “Locally Developed, State Funded” plan this would be part of the $1-1.5 million in engineering designs. Under a “Locally Developed, Locally Funded” scenario we will still have to get some of these permits and develop a subset of these plans. I don’t have a good feel for the costs but they are real.

30 Karen Connell April 17, 2014 at 8:54 AM

Mr. Phillips,
I have found your voice in this conversation to be one of the most informed and you are always a Gentleman. Thank you for both attributes, especially the latter. It is my understanding that the hardest easement to obtain will be the one along Parkerville Road because it is the largest and because of the usage. Apparently “usage” is figured into the cost of an easement/taking. Is it possible that our Town contribution to the project will exceed $4mm? I must have that wrong…..anyone?

I don’t know if Mr. Shea from Advisory reads this post? I respect his knowledge of these things. His opinion (about this project) differs from mine but that just goes to show you can like someone, respect them, be loyal to them and still have different opinions.

Who do I go to for answers concerning the Town cost for this project?

Thank you.

31 SB Resident April 16, 2014 at 1:22 PM

I want to thank you as well Mr. Boland, but I do want to object to your opening line of I do not usually post to blogs. Your post is exactly what us residents are craving and why selectman should be posting. No one knows the goings on better than you guys and being elected officials we can have some level of trust in the information you provide.

I want to make an informed decision of who I vote for when voting for selectman and this was the first first real glimpse I have ever gotten into who you are and what you stand for. Up until now the only person I felt comfortable voting for was Al. I don’t agree with him a lot of the time, but through his comments on this blog he has proven to me that he is genuine and I would love to feel the same way about all the selectman.

32 David Parry April 22, 2014 at 12:19 AM

To the editor:

I see you have provided a link to find Mr Boland’s letter. However, I can find no link to my reply letter. In fairness , would you please provide such a link?

I am unable to find my reply letter anywhere. I wrote it the following day, after Mr Boland’s letter appeared. It is not in the comments section. Perhaps you published it as a separate letter ?

Thank you,

David Parry

33 beth April 22, 2014 at 9:07 AM

Here is the link to your letter: http://www.mysouthborough.com/2014/04/16/letter-david-parrys-response-to-bill-bolands-letter/

As for providing a link somewhere “in fairness” – I’m not sure where you mean.

When you say I provided a link to find Mr. Boland’s letter, perhaps you mean within the story summarizing the Southborough Wicked Local story done following up on Boland’s letter. Since it was referring to a specific letter on the blog, I linked to what it was referring to.

Your letter was published immediately before that story. On the home page it is right underneath that story and on the story page, there is a link at the bottom “PREVIOUS POST: Letter: David Parry’s response to Bill Boland’s letter”.

If you are speaking about something else, please clarify.

34 Left out & deserve a vote April 25, 2014 at 7:22 AM

How can a resident meaningfully support the plan, if one is unable to attend town meetings?

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