David Parry: A Locally-Funded Plan for Southborough Town Center (Updated)

[Editor’s note: Plan below is written by David Parry, leader of the citizen’s petition initiative to form and fund a committee, through Town Meeting, to review the Main Street reconstruction project.

Mr. Parry asked me to share his information with My Southborough readers. To help the community communicate on this issue, I created this page with his plan and the visuals he provided. Views below do not necessarily reflect my own, and I can not verify the accuracy of the facts.]

Click here for David Parry’s document that explains the graphics below

1. The Easements required under the State Plan

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. The State-Funded Plan.

 

 

 

 

 

3. The Locally-Funded Plan.


 

 

 

 

Updated (4/12/14 6:50 pm): Mr. Parry replaced his text. Since I don’t have time to reformat it, I’ve replaced the text with a link to a pdf of his file.

29 thoughts on “David Parry: A Locally-Funded Plan for Southborough Town Center (Updated)

  1. Sounds like the State Plan is a better bet, up to code and safer. Why would we do this half baked plan. Look, THE STATE IS PAYING! Let me be perfectly clear, THE STATE IS PAYING. Simple, WE PAY OR THE STATE PAYS. Taxes are very high in this town, with this half baked idea they will be getting higher. Someone please stop this nonsense and take the state funding. We need to call HELP ME HANK!

    1. Actually, its WE PAY or WE PAY. The question is, WHAT do you want to pay for?

      The State will give us 5 million (maybe), but the State Plan will also cost a lot more overall because its so much bigger. To be clear, the 5 million from the state plan will not cover all the costs. We do not know what the total cost of the State Plan will be. We can pay an amount to fix the issues as normal for any road in town, or we can pay a possibly larger amount just so the State can push more traffic through our town.

      We need more information – on actual costs, easements, and what features the State will actually insist upon. These are things that not even the Selectmen know at this point. Let’s let the proposed committee provide us with this information so we can make an informed choice.

  2. My thoughts exactly Resident Charlie. This is a preposterous plan that makes no sense at all. We have 6 million at our disposal to make this area more functional, safer, and much better looking. It would be irresponsible for the selectman to just pave this road and if they did, the liability would be tremendous. A locally funded RESPONSIBLE and CODE COMPLAINT road will cost 7 figures if done correctly. Drainage is required; curbing is required; sidewalks are required; grading is required; widening is required. My neighbors and I really question the stability of this “alternative” plan.

  3. Mr. Parry is to be commended for offering an alternative. He has clearly put a lot of time and energy into this endeavor.

    From where I sit, the State Plan looks like it is in trouble, regardless of what I think about its merits. The political reality is that the 2/3+1 hurdle to secure the required easements (assuming that they are really required) is a high one. Since this would appear to be the crucial issue in the approval process I believe we should resolve this issue before spending more money on designs. I have proposed that the BOS attempt in the next few months to find a way to secure consensus on the state plan. That effort would be anchored by a special town meeting in the summer/early fall to vote the funding and acceptance of the easements. If that passes then there is broad support for the state plan, if it fails the project is probably dead.

    If the project dies then repaving of Main St would take place under our normal paving priorities and budgets. I suspect that this stretch of road would be high on the list, particularly the section of 30 East of 85. This would mean that the neighbors would receive the same treatment as all of the other residents of the town, nothing less and nothing more. Any other enhancements would have to compete for public dollars against all the other worthy claims on our tax dollars. We have a lot of these including school budgets, police and fire budgets, our massive unfunded liabilities, a public safety complex, dealing with our decaying municipal buildings, and modernizing our technology infrastructure and many others.

    As for the claim that, because of years of neglect, this section of road deserves special treatment and has a priority claim on our tax dollars, that argument leaves me unimpressed. We have several neighborhoods in town, including my own, that do not have access to municipal water. These neighborhoods lack the basic fire protection that fire hydrants provide. A strong argument could be made that these neighborhoods have been neglected for 80+ years and yet there is no hew and cry in town to spend tax dollars to deliver this very basic public safety infrastructure to these neighborhoods.

    All the other enhancements, like rebuilding the St. Marks wall should be proposed, debated and funded separately by Town Meeting. Any easements that might be required should also be secured in advance. 2/3+1 is a tough number to make.

  4. I am sorry to have to tell you, but in fact the TOWN is paying serious money. We have to pay ALL design and legal fees, and costs of takings and easements. We have already paid $450,000 and climbing — and that is just for engineering fees, so far, and guess how far we are along with engineering — we are just at 25%. . That is a quarter, so figure what the total is going to be. You do the math.
    And that is just in engineering fees, Then you have to add on legal fees etc,, when we start on the easements. There are 7 easements. Some may be costly. They are the exact equivalent of a “taking” of your land. You get to have a road on part of your land, whether you like it or not.

    By the way, .approval of the easements will require a 2/3rds vote by Town Meeting. Yes 2/3rds. It is just as difficult as getting a re-zoning approved. .

    As Steve Phillips called it “This seems like the most expensive “free” project in Town history”.
    Someone else might add “most difficult” to get approved.
    Others would certainly add “”most damaging” or “most undesirable” to our town, given the scale of it, and the traffic it will bring.

    Now let’s turn to the cost of construction itself. How does a Local plan compare to the “free” State Plan?
    Well that is very simple to explain — a very small fraction of the State plan. Well under 5%. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the plans again. The new construction cost is represented by the BLACK on the two plans. How much BLACK do you see on the State Plan? All of it = 100% . It is 100% BLACK because the whole (100%) of the right-of-way, 1 1/4 miles long, ( plus Rte 85, plus Common St, so really about 1 1/2 miles long,), is going to be excavated out and then totally rebuilt. It will take over 2 years. That is how your State dollars are spent, on doing stuff that does not need doing: Did you ever see anything wrong with Common Street ?.

    Now how much BLACK is there on the Local plan? It is the width of a new sidewalk along the south side of Main street, from Middle Rd to Latisquama Rd. , , about 1/4 mile long and a few ft wide. , from Middle Rd to Latisquama Rd. . That is all we need to do of any significance.

    All the remainder of the Local Plan is WHITE, meaning that it will NOT be RE-constructed, but only repaired, or resurfaced, and that repair work will only be done when and where it is needed. Some is needed . Much is not.

    Finally, to ensure fairness, we have asked for our section of road to be repaired to normal Town standards, and we only ask what residents would receive on the other 67 miles of road that are Town maintained. We just ask for fairness because we have suffered “deferred maintenance” for a very long time, and we want to be treated like everyone else.

  5. We had PROFESSIONALS who plan, design, and construct roadways for a living. I look at this half baked plan like I’m sure the majority of Southborough residents, and say, Really?! Someone has way to much time on their hands, this is MAIN STREET, hence the name! If those stakes along Main Street are where the new road or sidewalk is going to be, I say, let’s get this done!! I’m so done with sitting at the traffic light because people can’t turn one way or the other. To many opinions, to many experts, to many crazy ideas. Let the PROFESSIONALS do their job, that’s why we have them in the first place, they make decisions on FACT. I can’t stomach the sound of another committee, my word….we study things to death in this town!! Let me perfectly clear, VOTE NO ON ARTICLES 27 and 28!

  6. If we do anything but the most minimal of resurfacing jobs there will be substantial engineering charges that we will have to bear. Let me give you an example.

    At the public hearing there was a lot of discussion about drainage issues around the 30/85 intersection. A member of the library trustees suggested that the Library is at risk of flooding due to sheet flow in a storm. All of the water in this area eventually runs down a drainage system on Rt 85 south of the intersection. A resident suggested that this system is already undersized and will need expansion to handle any additional flow. Even Mr. Parry’s modest plan envisions additional impermeable surfaces which will increase the flow.

    Resolving the drainage issues in this one small part of the area will require substantial engineering designs. There will be technical calculations, design specifications, prints, plans for possibly moving water and gas lines, and permitting. All of this will cost money, lots of money, and of course we will then also have to pay for the actual project.

    The politics of the situation may mean that we will end up with a “Local Option” where we pay for all of a project that is in some respects more modest than the state plan. However, we should not be naive and think that we will not have to invest in substantial engineering design activities if we are to tackle some of the problems in this area that have been ignored for a long time.

    1. Al, I think I’m safe in stating that we agree that we do not have enough information, particularly cost information, about either plan. And I’d take it a step further and suggest that we also agree that Town Meeting deserves to receive this information before being asked to vote on the easements.

      Resident Charlie, how about we turn your neighborhood into a sea of asphalt and push more traffic through it? Because that is what you are trying to do to the Main St residents, the majority of whom clearly do not want this project.

  7. I keep reading how much the State plan will increase the amount of traffic in town, but I wonder if any real studies have been done? Although it makes sense generally speaking, I am not at all certain it is true of this particular situation.

    Where will all of this increased traffic be coming from, and where will it be going? Is it a fact that better traffic flow in town will definitely mean people abandon other routes to drive through Southborough, or is this just an assumption?

    Unless someone can give me a solid explanation (backed up by real data) of what NEW traffic will be flowing through town as a result of an improved intersection, I am not convinced. I think we are in real danger of basing large decisions on assumptions presented as fact.

    1. I agree that this information is needed for us to make a responsible choice. Getting this information would be part of the responsibility of the review committee in conjunction with town officials.

      In the meantime, check out this article (link below) from Google. They are switching their navigation to include current traffic volumes. So the more traffic on Rt 9, the more they will push onto Rt 30. Enabling traffic on Rt 30 with a wider road/intersection will only result in more traffic diverted from Rt 9 (i.e. status quo traffic but with more asphalt and less trees). And how much of that increased traffic volume will end up bottle-necked around Mauro’s, where the State-funded project ends and the road narrows and then takes a sharp right turn?

      http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/03/youve-got-better-things-to-do-than-wait.html

      1. Interesting. I am not sure that many local drivers rely on Google navigation to get around this area, do they? And I can’t see Rt 30 as a great alternative, even with better flow, and especially with the bottleneck around Mauro’s that you describe. That might be just the right deterrent, leaving the improved main intersection for local traffic to enjoy.

        Or maybe a smaller, locally-funded project could, in conjunction with the State project, put some protections in place to slow the traffic through town. I think we are mired in poorly informed, black and white thinking.

    2. I was wondering the same thing. Does anyone know that this new traffic will appear, or is it just speculation?

      It seems to me that it’s just as likely that traffic through town could be better, not worse. With a streamlined intersection people could get through that area with fewer delays, so the traffic that is there will spend less time waiting at lights. That means less traffic in the downtown area at any given moment, not more.

      1. It seems quite likely that traffic through the Rte 30/85 intersection will be much better. Often times around (evening) rush hour, traffic backs up beyond the fire/police driveway. At least half the time, drivers who either are not paying attention or don’t care, block the fire/police driveway exit even though the street is painted there. The current lack of turning lanes on 30 West at that intersection is a safety hazard for that reason and adding turning lanes there is a good idea because it usually is not backed up very far past the fire/police stations (on the days I’ve been there).

      2. I agree — just as likely to improve the traffic in town. Also, I think it is indisputable that left turn lanes and wider areas for cyclists will make this stretch of road much safer.

        The fact is that the town is growing and the traffic has already increased beyond what the current situation can safely and conveniently bear. The town needs to deal with this, and accept the realities that come with growth. This doesn’t mean we need to throw out every historic, quaint or peaceful aspect, but there will be some casualties.

        My prediction is that the State-funded plan (perhaps augmented by some changes by the town), once executed, would be enjoyed and appreciated by 90 percent of the residents.

        “It’s the same each time with progress. First they ignore you, then they say you’re mad, then dangerous, then there’s a pause and then you can’t find anyone who disagrees with you.” ~
        Tony Benn

  8. Mr. Martel, you must be drinking the cool-aid Mr Parry is serving. “a sea of asphalt”, really!! Let’s be honest, those stakes on Main Street don’t look like a sea of asphalt to me. The doom and gloom scenario you’re trying to convey is just rhetoric! If there was an increase in traffic you will hardly notice it due to the flow will be a lot smoother. I’ll give you five examples of MUCH IMPROVED INTERSECTIONS in town: Southville Road and River Street, Route 30 and Framingham Road, Route 30 at Central Street, Route 30 at Willow Street, Route 9 at Oak Hill Road. All of theses intersections were a nightmare back 20, 30 even 40 years ago. It’s time to update our intersection at Route 30 and 85, make it beautiful, make it easier for folks to travel around town, make it easier and safer for bicyclists, for pedestrians and finally, make it code and be compliance with real engineered design plans. We have one official plan on the table, not some half-baked plan that was designed on a Friday night. I’ll take whatever money the state is going to give us!! VOTE NO ON ARTICLES 27 & 28.

    1. You are asking Town Meeting to secure easements against property owners, and over the objections of Main St residents. Town Meeting deserves to be fully informed, which is the goal of this committee. We lack information about costs, easements, traffic impacts, and State required features. I would think that supporters of the State plan would endorse this review committee as it is their best chance to secure support for the future 2/3 vote.

      You have your opinion, and I have mine. I want our historic town center to remain as such. You want wider, faster roads. I think trees and lawn are beautiful. You think asphalt is beautiful. I want to calm traffic flow. You want to enable traffic flow. I think the State plan is fraught with large hidden costs to the Town. You think the local plan is half-baked – which is true, because town officials never provided an alternative. Hopefully the review committee will. It will be interesting to see with whom Town Meeting will agree.

  9. I made it perfectly clear that the cost of solving the Library drainage problem was a SEPARATE issue.

    If any road plan is going to worsen the Library flooding problem, then it is certainly going to be the vast State road project, with its acres of new impermeable asphalt.

    Al Hamilton, why are you stooping so low with such misleading statements about my extremely “modest” proposal ? Here is a direct quote from your comment: “A resident suggested that this (drainage) system is already undersized and will need expansion to handle any additional flow. Even Mr. Parry’s modest plan envisions additional impermeable surfaces which will increase the flow. Resolving the drainage issues in this one small part of the area will require substantial engineering designs”

    So you imply that my “modest” plan is going to cause extra flooding and will also cost extra engineering fees. That is utter nonsense and you know it !

    My “modest” plan increases impermeable surfaces by about 200 sq ft., or the size of bedroom. Now compare that to the many, many acres of asphalt added by the State plan — Adding extra traffic lanes in all 4 directions, for hundreds of feet, plus wider lanes and “shoulders” for a mile. If anything is going to make the flooding worse, then is certainly going to be the State road plan, by a huge amount. .

    The State-caused flooding problem WILL definitely cost us extra engineering fees, to figure out a solution. And who is going to pay for those extra engineering fees ? Come on AL, admit it, — the town.is.! So now you want the Town to pay for additional engineering fees to support your State plan, on top of the $450,000 in fees already paid, and counting rapidly higher. Just since the April 2 meeting, the engineering cost has almost certainly gone over $500,000 : Just figure it out. Two professional engineers, full time, for 2 weeks. Yes, the town is now in the hole by over $500,000 .. We are going to pay out over $1,500,000 in fees alone, possibly much more, before we are done.

    What will the engineering fee for my “modest” plan cost ? I figure about 30,000 total, since most of it involves no engineering at all because it is regular road maintenance. So the difference in engineering costs alone is going to be over $ 1,500,000.

    And I still have not allowed for legal and engineering fees for 7 permanent easements, which is potentially huge. .

    Now, Al, lets see what we can AGREE on.

    1. Would you agree with me that these COLOSSAL FEES are a serious issue which the town should be concerned about ?

    2. Would you agree with me that the SEVEN EASEMENTS are a serious issue which the town should be concerned about ?

    3. Would you agree that the State plan has a large number of DESIGN ISSUES that the Town should be concerned about ?

    4. Would you agree that a REVIEW COMMITTEE might be appropriate under these circumstances ?

    5. What SUGGESTIONS WOULD YOU OFFER TO MAKE THE ARTICLE WORK BETTER ?

    I would like to know as soon as possible, because I do intend t offer amendments, and maybe we, you and I, can work something out beforehand, and go into the meeting together, with a handshake, and a sensible suggestion, as to how the Town can get a handle on this whole affairr. Please e mail me directly at: parrydavidw@aol.com

  10. I see a lot of assumptions with this debate. Increased traffic, do we know its actually going to happen? Didn’t think so. I consider all of the real life problems.

    If there is one thing I do look at, it’s the even BIGGER picture. Times change, traffic increases everywhere, cars and more importantly trucks are bigger than ever. It’s something we will never have control over, rather we need to accept, and adapt. The traffic is not horrible now, but its not going to get any better. They only way to make it better, is to change how traffic flows through the intersection. Resident Charlie made a great example of the River ST/Southville RD intersection. Traffic hasn’t increased much, but it flows much better. That intersection is almost identical to what’s being proposed at Cordaville/Main. We as a community saw it work once, that design has a good track record in my mind.

    As for fulfilling people’s request on main street, I can understand they’re concerns and thank you for voicing them. One thing I haven’t heard about is local businesses. Ever been at a red light when Ted’s or OverNight trucking is trying to turn onto Cordaville? I constantly see those trucks, having to drive on sidewalks, come inches from cars, just to make the turn. Those trucks won’t get any smaller. I’ve seen the fire department’s ladder truck do the same thing. A bigger intersection will allow a long time running local business and our fire trucks to travel down our roads safely, without driving over sidewalks.

    There is one problem, I believe, I see with Mr. Parry’s design. I understand only some parts of the road need construction, but one thing I have seen time and time again is where patches of pavement have been replaced, cracks, pot holes form. We can’t keep patching out aging road. It needs to be paved all at once as to not allow any water to pool under neither causing pot holes for form. Not to mention, the rest of the road is beyond is age, and needs to be resurfaced. Think about long term up keep. If we only replace sections of this road, we will still have to deal will the sections that have not been replaced. Think of the tires on your car. You don’t replace one, you replace them all after they’ve reached their max life. I don’t want to pay for labor 4 times, I’ll pay once thank you.

    There has been heated debates not this subject, and most of them end up being personal. Remember, don’t get caught up in the debate. Remember what the problems is, and how to fix it.

  11. So many people have posted that improvements to this intersection are needed – I agree!

    Twice last week, I was stuck in the traffic on Main Street, which was backed up past Mr. Parry’s house, while I was heading west because of the lack of a turning lane for the traffic heading south on Rt. 85. The same thing happens in the morning with the eastbound traffic turning left to head toward Marlboro; and throw in the morning rush hour traffic with the Woodward school traffic thrown in the mix, and the result is near gridlock and chaos.

    Yes, one can argue that it is only for a short period of time, but this is a very inefficient intersection that, as Resident Charlie says, needs modernization! I liken it to trying to use modern computer software on an old 286 processor – slow – inefficient, outdated and frequently crashes!

  12. From the start of this debate is has looked to me like the most vocal group are Main St residents and non-taxpaying entities (St Marks). Most certainly, the taxpayers have the right to make sure their voices are heard (emphasis on taxpayer). All I ask is that if you use the argument that historic nature of our town will change, could you be a little more specific.

    And in case you are wondering, no, I do not live on Main St, and no, I do not think moving a rock wall changes the historic nature of our town.

    This is a well overdue project and it needed to be started a year ago if not ten years ago.

    1. Mr. Crowell, I’d be glad to be more specific. Speaking as a Main Street resident, when I say “change” I’m not referring to a couple of rocks being moved or a tree being cut down. I’m talking about a wave of demolition and/or conversion of antique properties on Main Street as our small-town road is suddenly accelerated 20 years into the future.

      Do you think that the Joseph Burnett home would still be standing today if potential buyers had known that our town is planning to install a strip of industrial drainage basins down Parkerville Road all along the currently wooded area at the right side of the property? Lest we forget our recent past, not too long ago this property sat on the market for over a year before it sold, and we could easily be looking at a dense redevelopment or a hole in the ground between Parkerville and Deerfoot Roads today if we hadn’t gotten lucky by having a preservation-minded buyer show up at the right time. The antique homes on Main Street may have all been standing for 150 to 200 years, but they can disappear in the blink of an eye. We can look around and see this exact process happening in communities all around us, and it will happen here too if we don’t act to protect the things which make our town special.

      Our Main Street neighborhood has shown itself to be incredibly adaptable and resilient through recent decades of increased traffic, but this project can easily be the tipping point which results in a wholesale conversion of Main Street properties to commercial or apartment use. Antique houses are like old dogs — they don’t adapt well to disruptive changes around them. We are seeing the last gasps of this process on route 9, where the remaining handful of antique homes are being demolished one by one because they no longer fit the area. If this is the outcome you want for Main Street, I can understand that we have different visions for our town, but we shouldn’t have our heads in the sand about where this process will lead.

      New England was not laid out in grid fashion by civil engineers. Road layouts have evolved in parallel with housing and industrial development over centuries, and as a result of this history we can point at hundreds of intersections all across the state which cause traffic backups during peak travel hours. Is the solution to reconstruct every road in our state so that traffic can flow through at maximum speed? If this is really how we want to define our priorities, we should be honest about this and accept that within the next decade, Main Street will look nothing like it does today.

      1. Mr Phillips – thank you for taking the time to reply.

        Your argument in my mind boils down to this: If we improve Main St with the current plan, downtown Southborough will turn into Rt 9 type of road, that large old houses will be torn down in favor of new homes or multiple new homes.

        Neither one of us can predict the future, but I do not see how a new improved Main St will change down town in the Rt 9 fashion. What private landowners do with their property is their business (so long as zoning laws are observed).

  13. At this point in the discussion, I’m hoping that town residents are starting to understand that the State project could easily end up costing more of our town’s money than if we treated this road as a normal maintenance project. I’m not even talking about the total cost — just the portion which will be paid by each resident of town from our own local property taxes.

    The basis of the TIP process is that we spend our own money to compete with other cities and towns for a limited pool of state and federal money, with no guarantees of when or even if we will ever receive this money. So in effect we are gambling lots of our own money in the hope of getting a chunk of money from the state and federal governments, and we don’t even really know the rules of the game. Over the past 10 years, our town has spent $450,000 on engineering costs just to get to a rough layout (the 25% design level), and we have reached the point where we MAY be able to start construction in another three years. However, we don’t have any formal commitment from the state, and we will shortly have to pony up more hundreds of thousands of dollars to our engineering consultants to start working on the detailed phase of the design without any guarantees that this project will receive state funding.

    What if we spend all of this money and end up with nothing to show for it? There is a real possibility that the TIP project could be delayed even further or eliminated completely. This could happen because of another critical infrastructure need, a shift in the federal or state economy, or something as simple as a change in priorities. Note that we will be electing a new governor in November, and that our project has been given a middle-of-the-road score (69 out of a possible 154 points — 44 percent) which leaves plenty of room for us to get shouldered aside by other projects. So we are bearing all of the costs and risks for a project which may never even achieve state funding. This is a significant financial risk to our town which we should not underestimate.

    So what are the costs to the town if this project ultimately gets funded by the State through the TIP list? TIP funding will pay for many of the basic construction costs, but the following costs are the town’s responsibility:

    – Further engineering design costs to advance this project from the 25% design level to 100%. We have already spent $450,000 on engineering design to get to the 25% level with no guarantees of project approval.
    – The town will have to pay for any permanent easements for this project out of our pockets which will require approval (possibly 2/3rds approval) at a future Town Meeting. The current plan envisions permanent easements on at least seven properties.
    – The town — not the state — will pay for everything above the basic road construction costs. When we talk about moving the Magnolia tree in front of the Community House instead of cutting it down, everyone should realize that this is not due to the kindness of the state — we are paying for this out of our own pockets. We need to better understand where the line is drawn between town-funded and state-funded construction expenses, but at this point it is clear that the town will be picking up a significant portion of these expenses.
    – The town will have to pay for interim repairs to the road, since construction under the TIP plan would not begin until at least three years from now.

    Further unexpected expenses such as MEPA compliance could easily add even more expense to the project. At last Wednesday’s library meeting, one resident described a $500,000 project in Framingham which ended up costing over $1.5 million just in costs to comply with the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Act. Did you know that the current design for Main Street calls for a series of rainwater detention basins at the currently wooded intersection of Main Street and Parkerville? Leaving aside the sheer ugliness of these basins, which will despoil one of the most magnificent properties in town, the Joseph Burnett (Garfield) home, we could potentially be faced with significant additional EPA compliance costs paid for by the town as well.

    I don’t think it a stretch to estimate that we can easily end up spending millions of dollars of town money on this “free” project.

    In contrast, as John Butler has pointed out, this stretch of Main Street represents 1/67th of our total road mileage, and our total road maintenance costs are currently only 3% of our town’s budget. In this context, it is difficult to understand why Main Street will somehow cost our town millions of dollars when we seem perfectly able to maintain the rest of our roadways without exorbitant costs. Unfortunately we don’t know yet for sure, because we have never really made the effort to figure out what the costs would be if we maintained this road ourselves.

    I have not yet made a decision to support or decline TIP funding since I don’t know all of the costs of each option, but it is crystal clear that we know far too little about the costs and impacts of any of the choices in front of us. I believe that a committee to thoroughly review these issues is by far the best way to proceed, which is why I support the creation of a review committee at Town Meeting. There has been a suggestion that simply establishing a committee would be sufficient to get us kicked off the TIP list. In my opinion, if our support at the state level is really that fragile, maybe we’d be better off finding out now instead of after we’ve poured another six-figure pile of money into this project.

    Remember that a potential loss of TIP funding right now is not the worst way this could turn out for our town. We could end up losing TIP funding in a year or two after we’ve poured another big dose of money into the pot, or we could wait through more years of further delays in funding while our road continues to deteriorate. Even worse, what if we receive TIP funding and spend potentially millions of dollars more of our town’s money, and still end up with a disastrous road which everyone hates? If you don’t believe this could happen, please take a drive down Route 20 through Northborough Center and ask yourself if this is what you would like our town center to look like.

    We should really take a good hard look before we leap into this project.

  14. Mr Phillips, I appreciate your commitment to historic preservation of antique properties. I guess I have to wonder how many of the homes in question are really pristine from a preservation standpoint? If numerous alterations, additions and renovations have already occurred, then it seems a conversion to commercial use would just be one more step in the evolution of these homes.

    I guess I am wondering, would a Main Street lined with shops and businesses housed in antique homes really be so bad? Done right, such a town center can be both quaint and vibrant.

    I think it is also important to remember that the road needs to be improved for multiple reasons, not just convenience. Public safety and environmental concerns should top the list. Traffic congestion and idling vehicles have an extremely negative impact on climate change, air quality and respiratory health. If I lived on Main Street, I would be especially motivated to get that traffic moving at a steady, slow pace.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to post your comment. I read all the comments on this topic because I live on Main Street and because I’m constantly looking to change my mind on this issue. However, the more I learn the more convinced I am that the State plan would place an unfair burden on all residents of Southborough. Why should someone on Oregon Road/Richards Road/Sears Road/High Street/Stockwell Road pay to “gussy up” my front lawn? What problem are we trying to fix? Accepting State and Federal money means that we have to pay for 7 easements and all the accoutrements that make the plan less obtrusive. Speaking of easements/takings: my natural perspective on many issues is that as a business owner. So I will be forthright in stating that fact. It is my belief that asking my neighbors to give up their front lawns, endure years of interrupted business and then “reward” them with three parking spaces when they have several more now is unfair. Parking is a crucial feature for business growth. I have firsthand knowledge of this fact. Think of this please…..do we as a town want to forever change our cultural center, our identity, 100% of the time to accommodate traffic flow that occurs 10% of the time? And, still not be able to change the footprint in front of the downtown businesses? This road would essentially make Mauro’s Market look like a tollbooth. Is that what we want? Please weigh in all. It’s the opinions that differ from mine where I learn the most. Thank you!!

    2. Resident10K, I agree that this is a question of balancing priorities within our town. Do we value traffic efficiency over preservation of existing neighborhoods? This is a question our town will be repeatedly asked over the next few years, not just for Main Street but in many other areas of town as well. Regardless of where our priorities lie, we need to make these decisions with our eyes open.

      Please consider these facts:

      – The proposed 40B development at Park Central will add 180 units of housing, and just by itself will add at least 5% to Southborough’s current population of just under 10,000 residents (assuming average household size of 3). At the same time, the state proposes to close the right turn from Park Central onto Route 9 West, which will direct more traffic away from route 9 through Flagg Road, Deerfield Road, Lover’s Lane, Lynnbrook, and Main Street. (Mr. Bartolini of the ZBA has stated that he is very unhappy with the state’s proposed changes to route 9.) Additional residential or commercial development is planned for the large Park Central parcel as well (the 40B covers only 25 acres leaving an additional 62 acres available for residential or commercial development). Even if this 40B is approved, our town will still be 13 units short of the threshold to prevent additional 40B developments. A 40B development, in return for allocating a portion of its units as affordable housing, bypasses almost all town control and grants final approval power to the state.

      – Framingham Technology Center, which is just over our border, has plans to add well over one million square feet of space which will create over 3500 new jobs. This includes Genzyme which is adding 921,000 sf and 2500 jobs, while Crossroads Corporate Center and 9/90 Corporate Center have another 650,000 sf available for development.

      – Westboro has reached an agreement with the state to purchase 95 acres of the 300-acre Westboro State Hospital. The town’s use of this property is unrestricted, so it does not need to be preserved for municipal use. The town plans to resell parcels to developers and businesses. This property has more than 1,000,000 sf of commercial development space.

      – The former Genzyme building near the route 30/route 9 intersection is going to be razed, the front lawn will be leveled, and a much larger five-story office building is to be constructed on this site, with a parking lot across the street.

      Even based on these few examples, It is clear that our town is going to be subject to a massive wave of development all around us over the next few years. If we are serious that optimizing traffic flow is our priority, we should start thinking about widening a whole lot more roads than just Main Street. If the Park Central 40B goes through, we should be planning to widen Lover’s Lane and Flagg Road as well to handle the large increase in traffic volume and safety concerns, and to support all of the commercial development around us we should be widening route 30 all the way from Framingham to the Westboro border. Maybe the town should take the Mauro’s Market property, raze the building, and widen the road through this area as well. This road will absorb as much traffic as we can get to flow through it due to its proximity to route 9.

      On the other hand, if we value the small-town feel which makes our town special, we need to be careful about removing the natural restriction points which discourage large volumes of traffic from using our local roads as alternatives to route 9. The most likely outcome of widening this intersection is that much more traffic will flow through, and that this traffic will then spread out over other cutoff roads such as Latisquama and School Street to avoid backups further to the east.

      One final note: I hope that everyone will take the time to examine the massive rainwater drainage system which is proposed at the intersection of Parkerville Road and Main Street abutting the Joseph Burnett home. The current 25% Main Street design plans call for two large rectangular detention basins and three rectangular drainage pools. If this drainage system is actually constructed, it is going to come as quite a shock to anyone who appreciates the natural beauty of this area. Please take a look at the plans and decide for yourself whether this is really what we want for our town.

  15. Hopefully this Local Plan will be taken more seriously by the Selectmen’s “Working Group”, as a real alternative to the State plan. It solves every one of the original problems, at a small fraction of the cost of the State Plan, and we could even start implementing it this year, since it will be under our total control.

    By the way, the local cost of the State plan must by now have reached almost $550,000. It was $450,000 according to DPW on April 2. It is now May 2nd, one month later. Just figure: One engineer at VHB is probably billing the Town at least $200 an hour, including overhead. This is $1600 a day or $8,000 a week, or $40,000 a month. On several occasions since April 2, there have been two staffers here. So that increases the total by $80,000, and counting. By contrast, the Local Plan has minuscule engineering costs, and can probably be done totally in-house at DPW. Just compare the simplicity and amount of new construction in the two plans — this is represented graphically by the total area of black in each plan (See the cover story for the graphics).

    I will have a free-standing document for the Local Plan within a week or two, available for anyone to view. Meanwhile the My Southborough version will have to suffice as a summary. It is incredibly simple, functional and inexpensive. Right along the lines of what was originally envisioned.

  16. Viewing the BOS meeting last week, so They could appoint an “Independent” working group, I observed Brian from VHB present. He contributed nothing.
    Could someone from BOS or DPW inform me/us if he was on the clock, and how much does an engineering consultant, working after hours/overtime, including overhead receive from our funds. We, the taxpayers are paying a lot of hard-earned money to have an open tab. Money spent on engineering costs could be better spent and more than pay for years of Bridget’s et al salaries.

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