Town Meeting: Yes to Roadway Improvements, Yes to Expanded Downtown Snow Removal

Six of the seven articles were approved by the town.

The town of Wakefield made its first step in several years last night to start addressing a 17-mile backlog of road repairs when it voted to approve $200,000 for roadway improvements in the town.

Department of Public Works Director Rick Stinson noted that the town does receive state funding to maintain roads, but the amount of money changes each year and only works out to an annual average of 44% of the town's need.

With 90 miles of public roads in town and an average life expectancy of 15 years per mile of road, the town must improve six miles of road each year, Stinson said.

This year, the town was only allocated enough money to improve 2.68 miles, far short of the goal of six miles per year. The extra $200,000 brings the total mileage up to 3.45 miles, an improvement of 3/4 of a mile.

"This takes a major step towards addressing roadway improvement," said Stinson. "As important as it is to maintain buildings and equipment, roads must be maintained, too. It impact quality of life here, and it's imperative town not fall too far behind."

Selectmen Albert Turo agreed.

"It's become clear to the Board of Selectmen that [unmaintained roads are] a situation that cannot continue," he said. "The town is going to have to do more to not only get closer to the six miles of roads we need to repair but also eat into our backlog."

Snow and Ice Removal
The town also voted favorably to expand the area in which downtown businesses must shovel or de-ice their sidewalks within 12 hours of a storm, or face a fine of $100 to $300.

Stinson said the goal of the expanded bylaw, which is already in effect in most of the downtown area, would be to increase public safety in a greater area of what's considered "downtown," Wakefield. The last time the bylaw had been updated was decades ago.

"Over the past 40 years, the town has grown and changed," said Stinson. "The purpose of the change is to ensure the bylaw is up to date with current downtown business district."

Stinson also noted that in the case of a major snow storm, the DPW would generally remove the snow on the sidewalks in this area anyways.

"It's in the case of a 1-2 inch storm that we would not go out to shovel or plow, so that's up to the business owner," he said.

Other Articles
The remaining articles passed, with the exception of a provision to use free cash to balance the town's FY2011 budget. That will not be necessary this year, advised the Finance Committee.

  • The FY2011 budget passed.
  • The zoning lines of 888 Main Street and 4 Walton Place were rezoned to place both of them in the business district.
  • The town accepted a final report from the Center from Performing Arts, the Little Red Schoolhouse (West Ward School).
  • The town accepted a report of progress from the Galvin Middle School project.
Jeff Crump November 15, 2011 at 09:50 PM
Nice to see they will earmark money for road repairs. When do they earmark money for school repairs?
Jonathan Pickering November 16, 2011 at 05:20 PM
Interesting point Jeff. How do people feel about this situation, do you think the roads or schools are more important at this point in time for Wakefield?
Jeff Crump November 16, 2011 at 05:46 PM
It's not a roads-vs-school thing, God knows our roads need the TLC. But if you've ever taken a walk through (or around) the High School, for example, you will notice that years of neglect is taking its toll. For goodness sake, they have to cancel English classes if it rains too hard. Beasley and Landrigan fields are embarrassing. Broken windows in the fieldhouse. And we all know about the IT problems. We've got money coming from the GIC changes and we better use some of it to fix the High School. I'm not looking for a Newton-North palace -- just something that isn't embarrassing and imminently dangerous.


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