Back to Board of Selectmen Meeting Minutes
April 14, 2009
Regular Session 7:07 pm
Mr. Riley, Ms. Burns, Mr. Rabuffo
Mr. Rabuffo reported that he and Ms. Burns had attended an event at Faneuil Hall entitled Partners in Preservation where Hingham was chosen as one of 25 towns to participate in a program that will include preservation grants to permit projects to restore buildings, in Hingham’s case, the Old Ship Church. The winners will be chosen by vote. To vote, log on to www.partnersinpreservation.com. There will be material distributed over the next few weeks to encourage voting. It is possible to vote every day.
Voted - to approve the minutes of October 28, 2008.
Grant of Location for NationalGrid
National Grid would like to install and maintain approximately 440 feet of two inch gas main and 70 feet of one inch gas service in Martins Cove Lane. Mr. Regan, National Grid representative, advised that the excavation will be filled with sand, the main laid and the road resurfaced. He reported that the job usually progresses at a rate of 80 to 100 feet a day. There will be no blasting.
Voted - to approve the Grant of Location request of Nationalgrid to install and maintain approximately 440 feet, more of less of 2 inch gas main and 70 feet, more or less of 1 inch gas service in Martins Cove Lane from the existing 2 inch gas main in Martins Cove Road in a northerly direction to house #9 Martins Cove Lane, subject to the stipulations of the DPW.
Burton’s Grill – Change of Manager
Patrick Gordon, one of the partners in Burton’s Grill, advised that Stephen Slicis will be taking over as manager of the restaurant. He was formerly manager at Playoffs, Joe’s American Bar and Grill and other restaurants in the area. Mr. Slicis has taken TIPS training in the past and is pursuing recertification at this time.
Voted - to approve the request of Burtons Grill of Hingham, LLC, 96 Derby Street, to change the manager of their Restaurant Common Victualler All Alcoholic Beverages License from Stephen Papsis to Stephen Slicis, subject to the approval of the ABCC.
Burton’s Donation Presentation
Mr. Gordon explained that the restaurant recently celebrated its fourth anniversary and decided it was time to give back to the community. Customers and Burton’s have made donations and the total amount has been given to the Elderly and Disabled Taxation Relief Fund. Mr. Paicos noted that he and his wife had attended the evening. The Board thanked the restaurateurs for their generosity to the community. Congratulations were extended to the owners on their success and thanks for the very generous donation.
Recognition of Kate Criscitiello
Ms. Criscitiello won second prize in the Massachusetts Municipal Association Essay Contest for an essay entitled ”If I were elected I would…” Ms. Criscitiello wrote that she would like to have kids represent themselves at town meeting. Ms. Burns said she had called Ms. Ciocca and talked to her about this. She also called the Moderator and asked him if he would be open to Middle School Students representing themselves at the town meeting. There is a Middle School club called History Hunters and the members of this group are preparing for speaking at the town meeting. The students have selected articles to speak about and students to represent the group. Ms. Burns noted that this is particularly good timing since the sixth grade is studying Greek civilization and democracy.
Back River Town Homes
Two of the affordable units are built and ready for occupancy. The lottery for the affordable units at Back River Town Homes is scheduled to be held on May 6. Ms. Burns noted that application forms are available at the Town Clerk’s Office for those interested in participating in the lottery.
Voted - to sign the Back River Town Homes Regulatory Agreement.
Mr. Paicos said he had a discussion with members of the Community Preservation Committee regarding the restrictions necessary for land bought with Community Preservation Funds. There has been a difference of opinion among various people on the requirements for restrictions on property acquired under the Community Preservation Act.
Voted - to grant Request for Counsel as submitted by the Community Preservation Committee.
Voted - to proclaim April 24 2009 as Arbor Day.
Ms. Burns attended a brief meeting at Linden Ponds on the topic of the school override. Unfortunately attendance was light, there were only 12 people in attendance. Ms. Burns said she hopes to continue this type of outreach. Mr. Riley reminded everyone that tomorrow evening is Candidates Night at Town Hall. That forum is scheduled to start at 7:00 pm. Mr. Rabuffo said the Governor had announced this afternoon that there would be reduction in staff, furloughs and some local aid implications. There was, however, some good economic news saying that retail side was starting to turn. Mr. Riley mentioned that the Citizen of the Year award was a wonderful time and well attended. Mr. Macmillan noted that volunteerism is alive and well in Hingham although he said there was a slight decline in the number of people who were offering their time. The Board noted that the Town relies very heavily on volunteers and that there will be a series of open house evenings for those interested in serving on Town boards or committees.
Mr. Paicos reported that the Rotary project is particularly important because a letter arrived today from MAPC saying that there would be a significant amount of money available for projects to be advertised by March 2, 2010. If the Rotary project is ready it may well get funded from the extra federal funds that have been made available.
Ms. Burns said that while the rotary is the most dangerous intersection in Hingham and the second most dangerous is the Derby Street overpass. Mr. Fernandes said the Town had just requested a time extension for the moneys available for the Derby Street overpass but there may be need for a modification. There is insufficient money to do the engineering and major traffic study that the corridor needs but there may be enough money for the traffic lights at the ramps. There are a couple of businesses in the area that have indicated a willingness to help out financially with the overall study. Mr. Fernandes said the intent is to get the project before the TRC at the May 14 meeting because there will not be another meeting until August. A letter arrived today from MAPC saying that there would be a significant amount of money available for projects available to be advertised by March 2, 2010. If the Rotary project is ready it may well get funded from the extra federal funds that have been made available.
Jeffrey Dirk of Vanasse and Associates explained that his firm had been retained by the town to look at the rotary and review how it works. The section of Summer Street leading to the rotary carries approximately 30,000 vehicles per day – 17,000 to Hull and 13,000 to Cohasset; there are about 20 crashes per year, most of which tend to be rear end. The intersection of North Street and Summer has about 10 crashes per year mostly rear end collisions in the right turn lane.
Mr. Dirk explained that three concepts are looked at for improving rotaries: grade separation, a modern roundabout with a tighter circle and deflection angles and, finally, a signalized intersection.
There is not sufficient right of way to develop the ramps necessary for grade separation and the water table is quite high so construction would be cost prohibitive.
The modern roundabout is a reduction of the area of the circle. A two lane roundabout requires extensive signage to make sure that people are in the correct lane prior to entering the circle. This design reduces the conflict points but there are challenges for pedestrians and bicyclists. Typically there are pedestrian lights for the crossing of the roundabouts. Mr. Dirk remarked that this alternative operates well but does not have the reserve capacity of the signalized intersection.
The signalized intersection is a T- shape. There are a very low number of left turns from Hull going toward Scituate and Cohasset. Recommendations included improvements to the North Street intersection including the replacement of the traffic signal, installation of new crosswalks and geometric improvements to the right turn slip ramp, possibly with a stop sign instead of a yield sign. An analysis of these design improvements shows additional capacity to accommodate estimated traffic volumes of 35,000 to 40,000 vehicles per day for 2029. Summer time peak traffic volumes would be much higher than the projected numbers. The state will also consider the flexibility of the signalized intersection because the timing can be changed to reflect changing traffic patterns. Intersections would include push buttons for pedestrians, accommodations for bicycles and a pre-emption signal for ambulances. Mr. Dirk said plans could be available for a shovel-ready project in March of next year. The next step is a Project Need Form which would go to the State Highway Department sand the planning agency.
The Board has received a letter supporting the modern roundabout. The single lane roundabout reduces crashes but the two lane roundabout is not as efficient in reducing accidents. Mr. Rabuffo said that his concern is that in the heavy traffic conditions roundabouts do not function well. Mr. Dirk agreed and noted that surges of traffic do not do well in roundabouts. He also noted that a roundabout would be just about at capacity when constructed; the signalized intersection would be more flexible. The roundabout is also more expensive because it would require three sets of signals as opposed to one.
The recommended “quick curb” on the center line would restrict left turn movements and slow traffic down because of the vertical element.
Mr. Riley said he had just returned from England and noted that a single lane roundabout functioned very well but the double lane roundabout did not work as well and the busses and trucks had difficulty entering the double lane roundabouts at heavy traffic times. Mr, Riley asked if a pedestrian bridge would be included in the project recommendation. The proposed bridge would span Route 3A from a location near Mill and North Streets to Whitney Wharf. Mr. Dirk indicated that the Town has right of way on either side so ramping would be possible. Mr. Riley noted that if the project were to go forward there will be at least two more hearings on the proposed changes.
Liza O’Reilly told the Board that she was in an accident at the rotary. Her vehicle was sideswiped and the insurance company cited the other driver. In her opinion one of the biggest problems is that it is painted as two lanes going into the rotary and it should not be two lanes in the future since people do not know how to drive in a two lane rotary. The separators will help with the traffic problems associated with those making left turns into the gas stations. Other residents commented that the traffic light is a better scenario, particularly if a there could be a driveway into Lincoln Maritime at the signal would be much safer than the current arrangement. The overall sentiment was that Water Street should be kept open; the crosswalk opportunities are great; and it would be a good idea to have a red signal ahead sign on Summer Street coming down the hill.
Mr. Friedman suggested a signalized rotary. Mr. Dirk noted that this would be complex and cause queue problems. The pedestrian bridge was also questioned since there is an existing crosswalk and push button pedestrian light. Mr. Dirk noted that a bridge would be safer for pedestrians. Mr. Giarrusso expressed concern about high speed accidents, particularly on the section of Summer Street between the traffic signals at Martins Lane and the rotary where the sidewalks are narrow and there are telephone poles and signs along the way. Of the proposed alternatives one would be more beneficial for slowing traffic down. That is Qwick Kurb because it would slow the traffic down for the area away from the rotary or intersection. There is not a lot of room to do modifications to the roadway since the lanes are 14 feet at the widest, including shoulder.
Mr. Reardon noted that the rotary has not had any significant change in fifty years so this is long overdue. He also noted that the summer traffic volumes are considerably higher that the averages referenced. There necessity is to have reserve capacity to accommodate these seasonal fluctuations. He also noted that the proposed pedestrian bridge would be blocking the harbor views and present a poor visual.
One Rockwood Road resident asked about the impact of the signalized intersection would be for Rockwood Road residents attempting to go left on Rt 3A in the morning. Residents also asked for pedestrian and bicycle paths from the Nantasket Junction stop to the harbor.
Ms. Reardon noted that a two lane roundabout is thought to be safer than signalized intersection and commented that that should be weighed. She also expressed concern that people will go down the hill faster to make the traffic light. Area residents agreed that opening the area might cause more accidents and more serious accidents further up on Summer Street. They also expressed concerned about the aesthetics of the proposed Qwick Kurb.
Mr.Riley said in previous discussion the Board had looked favorably on the signalized intersection but a vote is necessary to move forward. Ms. Burns said that in the long run making the harbor more accessible and friendlier for pedestrians is a major improvement. She also acknowledged residents’ safety concerns saying that in her opinion this would be a major improvement. This is the first of many hearings. There will be more opportunity for input. In terms of backups and the crossing of pedestrians, backups are more likely to be greater and less controlled with a roundabout. The Board has heard frequently about wider sidewalks on Summer Street but there is little space to work with. It may be possible to look at moving the obstructions (utility poles) and it might be good to get an idea as to what the moving of those poles would in entail.
Mr. Rabuffo said he remained in favor of the traffic light approach and he is counting on the review process to slow things down and validate numbers. He noted that the intersection would reach capacity faster with the roundabout than with the signals. It is worth pursuing and the study process will bring facts forward. Mr. Riley also agreed with the signalized intersection recommendation. He suggested that moving the utility poles be included in the project so the state will fund it. Another benefit is the benefit to the Lincoln Maritime. The space between the road and the harbor wall will allow space for an entrance that is more accessible and will make entering and exiting the property safer.
Voted - authorize the Town Administrator and town engineer to file the necessary papers to proceed to the next stage of the study of this project.
Street Acceptance Warrant Articles
Great Rock Road residents have contacted Ms. Lacy and indicated that they are aware that this will not be ready for acceptance at this year’s Annual Town Meeting
Voted – to recommend against laying out Great Rock Road as a town way.
Windsong Way is largely complete, the Planning Board and DPW inspected the road and everything was fine but there are two or three properties with sprinkler heads in the right of way. Residents said it would cost homeowners about $7,500 to move the sprinkler heads and offered to submit a letter absolving the Town of liability instead. Mr. Riley said the only way the Town could consider the roadway for acceptance is to get the sprinkler heads removed because once the roadway is accepted, the Town accepts any problems that occur in the layout. Mr. Riley also noted that a letter absolving the Town of liability would not carry forward to a new owner and it is not legally possible for a homeowner to absolve the Town of liability.
Voted - to recommend to not layout Windsong Way as a public way.
Meeting adjourned 9:55 pm.