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Selectmen Meeting Minutes — February 26, 2008—4:00 p.m. — Memorial Hall

A meeting of the Board of Selectmen was held Wednesday, February 26, 2008 at 4:00 PM in the Selectmen's Meeting Room at the Shelburne Town Hall. The purpose of the meeting was to hear residents concerns about the designs for Main Street. This meeting was held at the request of two residents of Main Street.

Sixteen (16) people were in attendance, including three (3) selectmen and four (4) staff. Selectmen present included Joe Judd, Chairman, Robert Manners, and John Payne. Also present were Pete Hillman, Shelburne Highway Superintendant, Guy Wheeler, Shelburne Falls Fire and Water District, Dan Lawrence, Weston & Sampson Engineering, and John Ryan, Breezeway Farm Consulting, Inc. The meeting was attended by nine (9) residents of the community.

Joe Judd, Chairman, called the meeting to order at 4:02 PM, a quorum of the Board of Selectmen present. He indicated the purpose of the meeting was to hear from residents along Main Street about the project before it went out to bid and that the Board was prepared to stay until each resident was heard. Then the Selectmen will make a decision and that decision will be final. Mr. Judd indicated that there were three main issues about this project that were important to the Board:
1. The time factor involved in the decision process; that hearings and meetings have been held on this project, the first two were held over a year ago prior to this application being filed.
2. The success of this project is critical because if it is not then the folks in the next phases may lose out on having their sections of Main Street improved.
3. The Town has just filed another grant application and the Board and the Community should not jeopardize that application.

Joe indicated that resident's concerns will be taken under advisement and that the Board will make a final decision very soon on this project. Finally, when residents speak they were asked to state their name and address.

Diana Hardina - 21 Main Street resident - She indicated that she has lived on Main Street for over 20 years. She was not involved in the initial designs. Her interest is in maintaining the verges that exist along Main Street and that the Town should want to recreate green spaces. The end result will be a safer and greener street. She then read the petition (at the Chairman's request) that was signed by seven (7) residents. Once it was read it was given to the Board. She made several points during her presentation:
* She indicated that perhaps 9 foot travel lane could be sufficient
* Keep parking and traffic
* Telephone poles
* 6 foot verge on one side of Main Street and a 2 to 3 foot verge on the other side of Main Street (there is currently is a 7-10 foot snow verge)
* 7 foot parking spots could be accommodated rather than the 9 foot that the plans called for
* Community center is difficult problem
* Requested that a minimum berm be installed - not the 6" one that the plans call for. Questioned why the berm needed to be so high
* When vehicles see trees they tend to slow down.
* New trees ought to be a certain height - planted at least on one side of Main Street.
* Parking and green space can coexist.

John Payne, selectman - asked if there was a difference between a 9' parking space and a 7' parking space and about the 9' travel lane. Dan Lawrence, engineer - indicated that there was.

Jim Boehmer - 14 Main Street - random thoughts - not really enough time to put them together - just saw the drawings for this project. He observed that the verges on the West Side are gone and that the only trees are those in the yards. He indicated that he understands the limited budget, the time spent on the design, and the status of the drawings. He doesn't want a wider more barren street. Lots of cars park on the streets - it's a parking and walking space. Wants more traffic calming and thinks that the granite curbing is nice. These plans call for less green instead of more.

Ted Cahill - Main Street, but in the Phase 2 part of the project. He offered some observations - the goal of the project should be to narrow Main Street rather than widen it. He felt strongly that the plans should include a cross walk at the Senior Center, and questioned if that was in the plans. John Payne, selectman - are there curbs along the River side of Main Street now? Answer from Pete Hillman, highway, and others that there were some locations where there were no curbs. Ted Cahill continued that we should keep as much green on the street as possible. We can not go back to the days of the elm tree lined streets - but he would like to see more trees; he planted trees on his property , and they are probably the newest trees along Main Street. This is a pedestrian village and we should keep what's here. Joe Judd, selectman - is there a bump out at the Senior Center? Dan Lawrence, engineer - we can accommodate that in the final design.

Joe Judd indicated that the Citizen's Advisory Committee for this project would have 1-2 property owners and 1-2 tenants.

John Edes - Main Street resident - indicated that the Town should keep things green; winter conditions are out there now, multiple cars parked at the houses means that cars are pulling out onto the streets; verge on one side place to put snow, leave one travel lane free and clear of parked cars. More green space; likes the one verge solution

Harry Dunning- 44 Main Street - stated that he was here wearing several hats:
1. Chairman of the sewer commission - as a member he indicated that this project would include improvements to the sewer line and that the Town and residents would stand to benefit; and that we do not want any delay in this project
2. Board of the Buckland/Shelburne Community Center - he indicated that a number of community events are held at the Center, and in some cases there are in excess of over 100 attendees many requiring parking - and that the center provides limited parking. In spite of all of the parking regulations people park wherever they can. Does not want to see any more limitation of parking along Main Street.
3. Fire Department - he spoke to the Chief who "went ballistic" when he heard of the plan to request more trees. Harry indicated that trees reduced the ability of firefighters to protect property and posed the question whether or not residents wanted the fire department spending their time cutting down trees to get at the building on fire or fighting the fire to protect the property? This is no longer a country lane village - this is after all Route 112.
4. As a resident he does not have a problem with the aesthetics of the design. Wants the water on the street to flow into a drainage system.

Dick Dils - not a resident of Main Street, he lives on Maple Street but owns property on Main Street. Thanks for the explanation of why he did not receive prior notification of the meeting. Dick wanted to make a couple of points - that the last time they did work on the sewer pipes on Church Street there was no plan of the lines and when they made the reconnections it flooded his basement. He agrees with Harry, but wants to see Dianna's plans implemented. If the focus in Shelburne is on good planning then we should support more green and open space; support the principles of smart growth. This is an old New England village and he wants to see the streets narrowed wherever possible. Use the street designs for traffic calming; trim the trees when we plant them. He has visited other communities who have grappled with traffic and pedestrian traffic and seen a number of solutions - one community put jogs in the street to slow down traffic; another had lights on intersections that were automatically changed to keep traffic away from the streets where there was a fire in progress.

Rebecca Campbell - 35 Main Street - She said that she lives in the house with the pole right in front of her home; she has only seen the small version of the plans and found them confusing and does not support the proposal to add verges. She asked who was responsible for cleaning storm drains. Joe Judd referred this to Pete Hillman who responded that it is the responsibility of the Highway Department. She indicated that she supports leaving the plans as they are - to have a verge means that there would be no parking on the street; to not have a verge means having parking on the street. She is a walker and frequently has to walk out in the street. Joe Judd asked what the plans are for in front of her house. Dan Lawrence showed her the plans and indicated that the issues would be addressed with her individually.

Joe Judd then asked if any one else wanted to speak, if not then the board would hear from others. Since no one else wanted to speak he called on Ted Cahill. Ted indicated that he does not support narrowing of the street as has been suggested. He believes that the Town and residents should be planting more trees on their properties like he has done.

Diana Hardina - she wants everyone to know that the tree warden has $500 for planting trees and that residents should call him. She also indicated that she had distributed a plot plan and that might have been confusing.

Jim Boehmer - He has a practical question. Did this project have someone involved that has experience with landscape design? It seems to be missing the perspective of a landscape designer.

Dan Lawrence, engineer - Weston & Sampson has 32 landscape designers on staff - he has experience coordinating these types of projects. His firm takes their cue for the designs of this project from the Town staff. He noted that you always end up with a "hybrid" design, but the goal is to keep as close to what exists in the filed while trying to solve as many of the problems that exist, finally you need to end up with a project that is affordable.

Joe Judd - has everyone had their opportunity to speak? We must stay within the dollar budget that we have.

Jim Boehmer - will it cost more to have more trees? And just an overall concern is that whatever is done that we move forward - and not keep going back and forth with a project.

Diana Hardina - why are the sidewalks being replaced when they were just put in 7 years ago? Joe Judd, selectman - referred the question to Dan Lawrence, project engineer - indicated that some of the sidewalks were in pretty good shape but that they were all being replaced to provide customer service entrances to the back of the sidewalks.

Joe Judd - Anyone else who wants to speak?

Art Schwenger - executive director of the Shelburne Falls Area Business Association - speaking for the business concerns in the Village and he served on the committee overseeing similar reconstruction projects in the Village. He has the following insights:
1. No reduction in the amount of communications with residents and businesses during the next project
2. Safety first - for both pedestrians and vehicular
3. Speed is not an objective of the project - we need to slow the speed down
4. Previous projects have been managed well during construction - when traffic was blocked off for a period of time; wants similar focus on access to stores and businesses
5. Continue to efforts to let businesses know what is happening along the street.
6. Wants to see the SFABA service in a similar capacity on the next project

Joe Judd - Has seen the difficulty with previous projects and the impact on businesses. The SFABA will have a representative on the Citizen's Advisory Committee.

Diana Hardina - 5 foot sidewalks; should be 4 - she is not sure of the ADA requirements for sidewalk width. She would like to see the Town keep the verges. This is a school walking zone.

Joe Judd - thank you for your willingness to share your concerns and be assured that the Board will make a decision soon.

The meeting adjourned at 4:58 PM.