Kelly Ross on June 24, 2014

Selectmen Hear Town Center Safety Recommendations, Overhaul PTBC

The following is Part Two of a transcript from the June 24, 2014 Selectmen’s meeting. For more, click here.

Video of the meeting will be available online at westfordcat.org

8:02 p.m. – Conservation Agent Bill Turner came to the board to discuss acceptance of an easement on Flagg Road.

Turner said that Brenda Gould, a resident on Flagg Road, is allowing an easement in the back of her property to give access from one piece of conservation land on Flagg Road to another piece of land behind her home that is currently landlocked.

Kelly Ross offered a formal motion, it was passed.

8:05 p.m. – Then the discussion went to the Westford Town Center Traffic and Parking Study undertaken by the Northern Middlesex Council of Governments earlier this year.

Peter Ewing of the Pedestrian Safety Committee then spoke and thanked NMCOG for its work on the project and asked Peraner-Sweet if there was any particular questions she wanted answered.

Kelly Ross on June 24, 2014

Kelly Ross on June 24, 2014

Peraner-Sweet asked Ewing what the Safety Committee did, with Ewing addressing a series of issues the Committee looked at.

Specifically, he said that adopting a town regulation to require snow removal from sidewalks would likely not be feasible.

A homeowner also recommended installing a crosswalk from the triangle monument to Hildreth Street, which would require a sidewalk there.

There was discussion bringing the sidewalk past Northern Bank and Trust, but it was determined there was no advantage to this.

There were three additional recommendations for bicycles, including where future bike paths might be placed.

NMCOG Director Beverly Woods said it was her opinion that a crosswalk near Hildreth Street would not be a good idea due to the lack of a sidewalk and due to the traffic that it wouldn’t be safe in any case.

Siriani praised the report and said it would be a good idea for the curb to come out at the corner of Boston and Lincoln. He also asked questions about ADA compliance and bike safety.

Woods said that some of the current sidewalks are not currently ADA compliant due to things like poles in the middle of the sidewalk, and it’s hard to correct everything at once.

She said priorities should be near schools, but engineering would be needed. She also recommended narrowing streets to 10 or 11 feet.

Siriani appreciated bicycle safety as well, and said there are many bicyclists at the corner of Graniteville and Coldspring roads. He said that town center safety is critical and asked if there was a crosswalk to Connell Drive from Ellen Harde’s house.

Ewing said that it was an open question at this point whether to put a crosswalk there, and there was a discussion on where the public and private property is just past Northern Bank and Trust, next door to Ellen Harde’s house.

Peraner-Sweet said that the key issue around safety is near the Abbot School, particularly regarding students who wish to walk to school. She said if the Selectmen were going to do something, that should be a focus.

Peraner-Sweet also agreed that traffic calming should occur at Boston and Lincoln, possibly even by planting flowers there.

And in regard to bike racks in the area, she asked how often they are used now.

Selectman Jim Sullivan said that the biggest issue is speed of cars in the area, and mentioned raised crosswalks.

Woods said this was mentioned, and the raised crosswalks would not work well due to emergency vehicles, but Sullivan asked why it worked in other towns.

Peraner-Sweet said that she might understand right next to the fire department, but not down the road.

Kelly Ross mentioned task forces made in the past and recommended one to develop a strategy.

Ewing said that the Pedestrian Safety Committee did talk about speed and that it was a complex issue, so the committee did not feel comfortable making a recommendation one way or another.

Westford Police Lieutenant Mark Chambers said that the Police Department has no issue, it’s the Fire Department that would have issues.

Jodi Ross recommended that the Selectmen make this one of the Selectmen’s goals.

8:40 p.m. – The Selectmen skipped ahead to discussion on filling an alternate spot on the Permanent Town Building Committee requested by PTBC chairman Tom Mahanna.

It was recommended that Jean Kuspert be appointed to the position.

There was also discussion about the makeup of the committee.

Siriani said he had been told one of the issues was making a quorum on a regular basis and whether having nine members versus five would be helpful.

Mahanna said that possible subcommittees might help, and that being a nine member committee might help the committee to function.

Peraner-Sweet said that the committee was here two years ago to ask for alternates due to a lack of a regular quorum, and apparently that was no longer an issue. On that note, she asked Mahanna was the best way was to help his committee function most efficiently.

Kelly Ross said that except on committees specifically made by the Selectmen, any alternates have broad latitude except when specified.

Mahanna said the main issue was he wants alternates to feel like they are part of the committee.

He said the other issue is the committee’s policy, which references part time members, not alternate members.

The board quickly approved Kuspert onto the committee and then talked about the issue of six the terms of six members on the TPSC ending at the end of June.

He recommended that terms be staggered so three members terms end per year.

There was more discussion on the Fire Station and the issue with the windows at the Day School.