Terra Friedrichs

& her local work in
Acton, Massachusetts

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Kelley's Corner

While I would LOVE to have serious pedestrian and mobility issues addressed, I believe most of what we need can be done without spending millions of dollars, and without actually decreasing safety. I have serious concerns about the proposed plan to add lanes. See details below.

It is REALLY IMPORTANT for residents of Kelley's Corner to know that this next Town Meeting [currently scheduled for June 29th] is the last chance to say NO to this project. Yes, we want the "Free Money" from the state. But at what cost? a four lane "highway" for kids to walk across? We can get crosswalks and sidewalks without sacrificing our safety. Also, this project has been deemed "critical" to the redevelopment of the KMart parcels. Adding lanes will increase the likelihood that there will be high density luxury condos on the site. Keeping things "small" helps ensure that something more community minded will go there...

Also, if you're a property owner on the route of the project, please note that once the eminent domain vote occurs, you have [effectively] no power. Once Town Meeting gives authority to the Board of Selectmen to move forward, they can expand the dimensions of the project. "Not much" say officials. But how much is "Not much"? Is that enough to put people out of business? to take up more of your yard? Yes, the design is "complete", but it isn't really, and by voting "yes" on the project, we're giving permission for "minor" changes. A "minor change" was approved on Rt 2A not too long ago...to add a whole other house! how much of an increase would our eminent domain vote allow? We have gotten no answers.

And the part that bothers me the most is that town officials are not telling residents that they can say "no" to the project, that it's fairly easy to stop a project like this because it requires a 2/3 vote.

BUT they want this project so much that they are holding the vote in the middle of the pandemic! Perhaps so that fewer people will come and object? I don't know. But I do know that it's only fair that residents be told that this is their chance to say "no, let's wait and reduce the size of this project". The state won't give away "our money". It isn't "our money" anyway. These state budgets are not set in stone, and we don't even know if the money will be budgeted anyway, since the virus will result in new, perhaps drastically reduced budgets. So why give away our eminent domain authority now?

FURTHERMORE, the "artist renditions" of the project are BEFORE they took away and/or reduced landscaped "buffers" along the sidewalks.  [butters are green lawn or other plants that separate the walker from the traffic] But the artist renditions [pretty pictures] still show wide landscape buffers that no longer exist in the design. 

So why would we vote for them to construct something that the pictures aren't showing?

Personally, my business won't go out of business, and my kids won't be walking across a highway, but if the residents stand up and ask me to vote NO! you can be darned sure I will...

Below is what I wrote BEFORE the town sent in the complete design [with no further public comment, I noticed]

The current proposed "official 75%" Kelley's Corner infrastructure plan would add lanes to SPEED traffic. By adding lanes, the distance a person would have to travel to get from one side to another will increase 20-30%. The risk of pedestrian injury increases significantly when lanes are added at a busy intersection.

Officials told us that we could get changes AFTER the 25% design was submitted, and that the 25% submission was a "formality". Now they are telling us that it's "final" and we should have raised the red flag about changes we wanted BEFORE the 25% submission. Yet, I personally, have registered formal complaints for years, and I kept being told that we could make those changes "later". Well, now is later. This is our last chance.

Also, I have recently found out how few parents even realize what is being planned.

I urge a phased approach, where we engage in immediate fixes to Kelley's Corner for address urgent safety concerns.

THEN we see how this impacts the traffic. And take that into consideration in a redesign for the final design.

We can already, and very affordably:

- add a no-left turn on the Rt27/R111 South approach
- fix the timing on the lights
- add blinking pedestrian crossing lights at both ends of No Name Road (that crosses through the Roche Bros parking lot)

The cost of these fixes are minimal. Before we spend hundreds of thousands of additional dollars to appraise the cost of takings, etc, for a design that may actually be more dangers, why not try these very affordable fixes? and THEN commit to the longer term, larger design.

If we do not want to do these affordable fixes, I think we should seriously consider redesigning to take out the extra turn lanes.

Here are more concerns:

- the Hosmer House site, which is protected under federal law, because it's a significant historic structure
    - why not CHERISH this site and build meandering paths which highlight the site's beauty and avoid killing very significant old trees? such a solution would be more affordable and would add to the value of the site, which adds to the value of our properties, and the quality of life

- the trees at Rt27/2. the current plan is to clear cut the intersection of Rt2 and Rt27. It's not entirely clear on the drawings but it looks like potentially thousands of trees will be lost, from one end to the other. these trees cool the earth and process CO2 from the traffic

- the trees along McCarthy Towne land are ancient grandmother trees. It's my understanding that the parents have not been involved in making the choice whether to try and save these trees. Shouldn't the parents at least be asked? Shouldn't the parents ultimately be involved in any decision about land use on school property? [[see graphic below, if you are a McCarthy Towne parent, I would very much like your opinion on whether you're willing to support giving up some playground space to save the trees or not]]

- the trees along other sections. Don't we deserve a "meandering path" design (so called by the engineers who proposed it and advocate for it) instead of a straight square design right next to the roadway?

- the islands will cause more danger. the plan is for the islands to be where kids stand in between the traffic that's whizzing by. yet the the islands are tiny! why not just put in a pedestrian light, which is super affordable...we can do this now

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