I Urge you to vote NO! to Kelley's Corner, Monday at Town Meeting.


In the beginning of the Kelley's Corner infrastructure project, I was supportive because we were being promised new sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks, shade trees…all of the wonderful things that can come with a new intersection. But then when the project was "expanded", I became a little suspicious because around the same time the KMart lot became scheduled for "sale" to developers, the new version of the proposed project added new turning lanes and new traffic lights.

The new turning lanes add a significant amount of distance for walkers. The walker would have to walk across 4 lanes of traffic in the proposed design, instead of 3. "But it's only another lane, and there will be lights with a "walk-button". BUT from someone who is related to a person who was run down by someone running a red light, this is no comfort.

So I started digging a little deeper. I wanted to know "who" was being served by these new turning lanes. I had started to suspect "developers". And I wanted to uncover if this was the case.
At the public hearing, I asked the engineer, and here are my notes:

Me: The traffic projections indicate the need for new turning lanes, yes?

Engineer: Yes

Me: The traffic projections include full build out of the Kmart lot into high density luxury condos, right?

Engineer: if you mean the project they are talking about, yes

Me: If it's the 200 luxury condos, then yes that's what I mean.

Engineer: then yes, the design accommodates that.

Me: What if the traffic projections did not include accommodating the 200 condo project?

Engineer: then you wouldn't need the new turning lanes.

Me: What about the school traffic?

Engineer: that in itself wouldn't justify the new turning lanes.

Here are my questions that I asked Jon Benson, and what answers I've gotten:

1. Is the Kelley's Corner design complete as of today? [No]
1. a. If so, please provide a link to the final design [NA]
2. b. If it is not "final", will the design be final by June 29th? [No]
1. c. If not, when will it be final? [contractor estimates completion "in September"]
2. 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. [I was told this folder has the most current design: CurrentDesign, but in meetings, we've been told it's been updated. Emails to town staff have not confirmed whether this is the final proposed design]

[The rest of these questions remain 100% unanswered in writing]

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 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: KellysCornerPresentation

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?

ANALYSIS

If they really want this, let's send them back to reduce the size of the streets and make them more walkable…The state says that YES, we can push the project out, and YES, we can have the "free" money for sidewalks/bike lanes/crosswalks even without the new turning lanes. A slimmed down project would cost half the money, and take less land from vulnerable local small businesses.

Let's say "NO"! to an ill conceived project, focused on serving developers.

Let's say "NO"! to spending money on this when teacher/staff jobs are at risk.

Let's say "NO"! to a project which decimates the shade cover for the intersection.

Let's say "NO"! to a project which would require walkers to walk across 4 lanes of traffic.

Despite that this article will probably "pass", because the proponents have gotten promises from their "network" of people to come and speak in support, let's say "NO"! so that this isn't unanimous. Protect small business and challenges by people who think this is an unsafe design by voting "NO!".

People speaking up for this project are folks who you probably know, former officials, and people who were signed up to host "coffees" for the proponents to show the dog and pony show which only tells people the good things about the project… and doesn’t tell you about the bad things. They are engaged in a full scale PR campaign, which seems inappropriate for a municipality, which should we telling us both the good and the bad and then let the voters decide. Instead, they are in full sales mode. I believe, that's to serve a future developer at the KMart lot, where it is hoped by development-friendly officials, that 200 luxury condos will be built. [see below for a transcription of my conversation with the engineer which convinced me that this is about the KMart lots despite official's assurances.]

Further, town officials refuse to answer key questions, in writing, that are critical to small businesses, like "how much land" could be taken if the town votes "yes" on Monday? Will they be able to take more parking spaces from Beuno Y Sano? [Bueno Y Sano owners have said that taking more spaces will put them out of business] We believe that the language from the warrant article, " "take any portion of the parcels of land" is broad enough to do this, despite any verbal assurances from the town. The town has refused our request to put this in writing.

The response I got from Jon Benson, the official Board of Selectman "Liaison" for the Kelley's Corner vote [Article 3] was, " 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." He had offered in public meetings to answer "any outstanding questions". I hadn't realized that did not include "my" questions.

Here are other bad things we can see from the published designs which do the following:

- significantly increase the walking distance in most crosswalks [traffic islands don't help. they can be super dangerous…people have been run down on them while waiting on them].
- destroys all public shade trees in the main intersection and almost all trees in the rest of the project area
- could very well put at least two small businesses out of business…it already drove Quill & Press out of town…the owner told me, "this is the last straw" when they threatened eminent domain to take away his front parking spaces and force the semi-truck [which delivered to the store] to only make right hand turns.
- Makes the intersection even MORE fossil fuel centric…accommodating cars, instead of accommodating people
- Uses money that we badly need to keep on reserve because we do not know what is coming

The town also refuses to publicly admit that while the state is offering "free money", we don't even know if the money is available. The "guarantees" that we're getting are from quasi-public agencies which have a vested interest in towns thinking that the money is "there". These budget years are NOT guaranteed, especially when the Governor and the Legislature have already announced that there will be "big cuts".

Don't we want to keep this money on reserve for at least a year? To make sure we can preserve teacher and town staff jobs? The administration of both the town and schools are already preparing to "make cuts" if the state aid does not come through. Do we really want the town to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars chasing money we don't even know is there? At a time like this? For more information, see TerraForActon

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