This week, the Board of Selectmen voted to implement changes to the Main Street re-design. The decisions centered around safety for drivers and pedestrians. Meanwhile, residents worried about decreased parking in an area heavily used by the community.
The board ratified recommendations made by the Main Street Design Committee to:
- Insert additional sidewalks on Route 85
- South of Rte. 30, on the East side – running from the corner of the Community House to Woodward School.
- North of Rte. 30, on the West side – running from the corner of the Southborough Library down to the end of the library parking lot.
- Add parking along Main Street at Middle Road
- East of Middle Road – 3 unmarked spaces, painted “Funeral Only” (and not for use during wakes)
- West of Middle Road – 5 unmarked spaces
Although the parking is an addition to the previous approved plans, it is a reduction to what had previously been discussed with Morris Funeral Home owners. And even that was a reduction of the parking that currently occurs along Main Street. (The Main Stree redesign includes curbing to prevent parking on sidewalks.)
The Morrises’ attorney told the board that parking is essential to the 6th generation business. He asked for the board to incorporate a plan to address more parking.
The committee defended that the site lines at Middle Road force the parking limitations. Chair Martin Healey explained that the nature of their talks changed once they looked at state and federal guidelines. More parking would create a danger for drivers and liability for the Town.
But the committee acknowledged poor timing left the business owners feeling disenfranchised.
The Morris family participated in several meetings to work through parking options. Then the committee received and reviewed the guidelines while the Morrises were out of town. Member Steve Phillips explained,
While they were on vacation in August, they lost three parking spots.
What didn’t change last night, but added to the Morrises’ dismay, is the reduction in parking on Common Street. Reduced parking there was already incorporated in the 25% Plan design. Stephen Morris, former Selectman Bill Boland, and former opponent Desiree Aselbekian all objected to reduced parking in the busy vicinity.
Morris and Boland focused on the use of Common Street by visitors to Pilgrim Church and the Southborough Library.
Morris claimed that his concerns had been shared by the church and library. He felt undermined by discussions that took place with the institution representatives without him. Puportedly, those conversations garnered support (or lack of opposition) from the institutions.
Boland was concerned about the need for parking for the church, wakes and for public events hosted by the library:
People aren’t really addressing that there’s a drastic reduction of parking on Common Street. . . which doesn’t come down to the safety factors at the end of Middle Road.
Boland said he counted 14 cars parked on Common Street last Sunday, in addition to cars parked both ways on St. Mark’s Street. Galligan confirmed Common Street will be limited to 9-11 spaces.
Aselbekian worried about shrinking parking in an area, including the Community House, heavily used by an elderly population and families with small children in a community that is growing. She pushed for the Town to come up with a plan to handle parking needs.
MSDC member John Wilson countered audience concerns:
If any of these people that park around here that go to events, if they were going to a Patriots game and could park this close to Gillette Stadium, they’d think that they were an important person.
Member Susan Baust reminded the public that when given a choice between parking and sidewalks, area residents chose sidewalks.
Brian Shea, member of both the board and committee, stressed that the committee had worked to include as much parking in the area as possible while ensuring the road was properly engineered.
Shea encouraged the Funeral Home Director to reach out when needing help
with temporary parking spaces on days of events or temporary traffic pattern adjustments to accomodate those, I will do anything I can to help them as long as I’m sitting in this seat here.
To protect his business, Morris has started taking steps towards building a lot on abutting property. He’s taken out an application for demolition of his pre-1900 house at 36 Main Street. (He anticipates potential opposition from the Historical Commission.)
Morris asked for help from the DPW to pursue financial assistance from the state. Rather than discussing that during the meeting, the board asked their engineering consultants to follow up.
BOS Chair John Rooney’s questioning the Town’s engineering consultant on adding more parking to Common Street. He said they would need to look into that. He did explain that parking was determined based on distance from intersections and crosswalks, and hydrants.
For the sidewalk by the Southborough Library parking lot, Rooney asked the committee to look into extending it to St. Mark’s School’s crosswalk. He asked engineers to take a quick look at estimated costs for surveying the land and a projection to share with St. Mark’s on what that construction would cost if they supported it..
The MSDC update also included aesthetic recommendations yet to be voted on.
Members recommend a 2:1 ratio for replanting trees. And they delineated the Route 30 sidewalks as asphalt from Sears Road up to Fay School’s formal entrance. From there sidewalks would be concrete to the project end at Park Street. (No specifics were given for Route 85 sidewalks.)
Click here for the update memo.