Benson Requests Acton Forum Publish MORE DETAILS Specific to the Friedrichs Correspondence on Article 3

In response to Terra's piece in Acton Forum, I would appreciate if you would run the full text of my letter to Terra of June 24 in response to her questions ahead of tomorrow evening's Town Meeting.

For completeness, Terra's letter is below mine.

From: Jon Benson
Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2020 9:21 AM
To: Terra Friedrichs
Cc: Kelley's Corner Steering Committee; Board of Selectmen; John Mangiaratti; Planning Division; Finance Committee; Jo-Ann Berry; Charlie Kadlec
Subject: Re: Article 3, Kelley's Corner questions


To begin with, I never offered to answer your questions on Article 3 before Town Meeting. No such conversation---verbal or in writing--occurred.

Just stop it.

What is before Town Meeting in Article 3 is authorization and funding for the Town to acquire strips of land along portions of Main Street to accommodate road widening and streetscape improvements for the Kelley's Corner Infrastructure Project. The right of way acquisitions are the Town's last state mandated cost for the infrastructure project. An attached eight slide presentation with accompanying text sets out my Town Meeting presentation in support of Article 3.

Hopefully this explanation will be helpful in better understanding the design process.

There are three major phases of design for a project receiving state funding. Following the MassDOT submission requirements, those phases are:

1. Preliminary Design (25% submission)

2. Final Design

(a) 75% submission

(b) 100% submission

3. PS&E (Plans, Specifications and Estimates)

All highway design projects receiving state and federal funding must follow the MassDOT design submission requirements. The submission requirements call for the municipality's consulting/design engineer (GPI for the Infrastructure Project) to submit all of the design information as the design progresses from preliminary (25%) to final (PS&E). Design submissions include a variety of engineering documents such as surveys, traffic studies, reports, calculations, construction plans, cross sections, estimates, special provisions, Right of Way Plans, Bridge/Structural Plans/calculations/reports, utility coordination, etc. The design submission is for the 25%, 75%, 100% and PS&E phases of submissions. At each submission phase, GPI, the Town's consulting/design engineer, prepares all of the design documents, materials, reports, plans, etc. and submits them to MassDOT for review of the design as it relates to industry standards, technical design and engineering requirements. The submission schedule allows for many departments within MassDOT to review all aspects of the project and provide comments to the consulting/design engineer (GPI) as the design progresses. The 25% design is the most preliminary and has the least level of detail, and the PS&E submission is the final package, containing sufficient information for contractors to bid and build the project.

MassDOT has provided approval for GPI to continue to the 100% submission. GPI anticipates making the 100% submission in September. MassDOT's various departments have reviewed the 75% design documents and have provided comments (mostly technical design related) to GPI. GPI and MassDOT have discussed the comments and maintain an open dialogue as GPI prepares for the 100% submission phase. Review comments (again, mostly technical design related) will be incorporated and the design will be developed for the 100% submission.

Both the 75% design and 100% design submissions include Right of Way plans, which contain all of the information on land acquisitions and easements to be acquired by the State and the Town. These include the permanent and temporary easements and land acquisitions, identifying the parcels, the size of the acquisition required, and the reason for the acquisition.

What I will not do is read things into the current plans that aren't there or speculate about future hypothetical actions that might or might not follow if Article 3 receives Town Meeting approval and moves forward. Unforeseen occurrences can force even the best-laid plans to require adjustments, and reasonable people know and accept that.

I have asked John Mangiaratti to provide you the Docushare link to the latest plan.

Kindly note, I am responding to you this one time and will see you at Town Meeting.


From: Terra
Sent: Monday, June 22, 2020 1:03 PM
To: Jon Benson
Subject: Article 3, Kelley's Corner questions

EXTERNAL EMAIL * Caution is Advised *


Thank you for your offer to answer questions about Article 3 before Town Meeting.

Please see my questions below. I may have more, but these are the questions I have at the moment. The questions may seem to overlap, but I'd like answers for each one separately, please. I would rather get answers ahead of time, than to try and get answers at Town Meeting. Either way, I want answers "officially", so that if Article 3 passes, I'll have official answers as to what we were told leading up to the vote.

1. Is the Kelley's Corner design complete as of today?
1. a. If so, please provide a link to the final design
1. b. If it is not "final", will the design be final by June 29th?
1. c. If not, when will it be final?
1. d. Either way, please provide a link to the current design, so that we can compare this to the various versions that property owners seem to have, to ensure that everyone is looking at the same design.

2. If voters approve Article 3, effectively giving the BoS eminent domain authorization to "take any portion of the parcels of land" [quote from the warrant], can the design change after the Article 3 vote, without a subsequent Town Meeting approval of the modified design?
2. a. If the design can change after the Article 3 vote, can such a change result in the Town taking more of the land than is shown in the current design? If so, how much more? 2. b. If the design can change after the Article 3 vote, can such a change result in the town taking more land than the the town has told property owners they would be taking? If so, how much more?

3. The parking spaces shown in your presentation for Bueno Y Sano...are these spaces "guaranteed" to remain parking spaces if Town Meeting votes to approve Article 3? or would the eminent domain authorization you're proposing allow flexibility for the town to remove one or two or more of these spaces? For reference, this is the version I'm looking at: CurrentDesign, 4. We're hearing that the state budget is in shambles and to expect serious cuts in state aid to the schools and the towns. The state has already said that the town can push the KC project out another year.
4. a. Do you believe that preserving staff jobs is more important than funding the KC project?
4. b. How do you know that the cost of the KC project won't be needed to block a bullet hole in our budget created by the loss of state aid, where such a bullet hole may very well be the size of 4-5 jobs?
4. c. Are you certain that the town can both preserve the current level of staffing as well as afford the KC project all within the proposed budget?

5. Public shade trees are valuable to the townspeople, as indicated by the Master Plan. The picture shown in your presentation on Docushare [see link above], appears to show mature trees in the main intersection. It appears as though all of these trees would be trees that would be newly planted during the proposed project.
5. a. Please show us which of the trees shown are "existing" trees and which would be "newly planted" trees.
5. b. For the newly planted trees, how many years before they would be the size shown in your presentation?
5. b. It's my understanding that in the order of 90% of the current shade in the main intersection will be removed. How much of the current shade cover will be removed during the project?
5. c. What size [diameter in inches] trees will be planted in place of the trees that were removed?

Thank you, in advance, for answers to these questions. It's a list of the various questions that I've asked verbally at forums and I'd now like to make sure that I understand the answers, and have those answers in writing.


*~*~*~* Terra Friedrichs

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