March 23, 2009 Post-Meeting List

Here's the list from Monday night's meeting, as sent to Kate Seaman, the Select Board and the Town Manager.


  Unanimously to approve the taxi licenses for Michael McCarthy and Jan Sobiech, per the motion sheet

  Unanimously to approve the design concept dated 11/4/08 for the Food For Thought section of the North Pleasant Street sidewalk and adjacent parking spaces, per the motion sheet and contingent on the Public Transportation and Bicycle Committee's review of the bump-out

  Unanimously to approve the Cottage Street Parking Changes per the motion sheet

  Unanimously to approve designating the DPW as the Town's permitting authority for trenches, per MGL 82A, Section 2, 520 CMR 14.00

  Unanimously to approve setting the trench permit fee at $35

  Unanimously to approve reducing fees for three other permits to the following amounts:  Driveway Permits - $50; Drainage Permits - $100; Street Opening Permits - $100.

  Unanimously to endorse the PVPC Joint Transportation Committee's 3/18 letter to the Governor encouraging a more equitable distribution of economic stimulus funds (Stephanie will write and sign a brief letter expressing the Select Board's support, to be sent to the Governor and other key legislators, attaching a copy of the 3/18 letter)

  Unanimously to authorize the DPW's installation of temporary lane closures on Lincoln Ave. and Sunset Ave. (per the PowerPoint printout from our packet:  Figure 9 - Half Closure Option) to evaluate their effectiveness for traffic calming, prior to September 8, 2009

Agreed, without voting:

  That Alisa is our unofficial liaison to the Hadley 350th Parade; that she will file a "placeholder" application by the 4/3 deadline for the Select Board's participation; that she would check to see about the possibility of SB members riding in convertibles in the parade, instead of on a float; and that she will report back with additional relevant information

  That the Select Board's request at the 3/16 meeting for ten years of employee compensation information would be subsumed by the Budget Coordinating Group's efforts to determine optimal data to be collected across Town, School and Library budgets, which will occur as soon as possible following Town Meeting 

  That the Select Board should have copies of the draft town-wide traffic calming policy to consider and offer comment on as part of the feedback process; that the draft should be analyzed and reviewed by the the Public Works Committee, the Public Transportation and Bicycle Committee, and the Disability Access Advisory Committee; that public comment should be sought through public meetings (meetings seeking public participation - not merely posted public committee meetings) and other mechanisms (such as the Town web site) and that the resulting feedback should inform the recommendation that is ultimately brought to the Select Board (Guilford indicated that such input-gathering could be completed by the end of the public school year, and that either a proposal or a status update could be ready for the Select Board in July.)


  That the approved Cottage Street parking changes be reviewed for effectiveness with a report back to the Select Board by June 30th

  That UMass be amply notified of the lane closure planned for Lincoln and Sunset, so that students and staff can be made aware that this will occur at the beginning of the school year in the fall

Items to be added to the 4/6 agenda:

  Approval of the 3/16 minutes (postponed, because they had not yet been read)

Items to be added to a future agenda, not necessarily 4/6:

  Consideration of the proposed revisions to the Committee Liaison Policy (postponed because several members haven't dealt with it yet)

Materials to be brought back to next meeting:

  None, as of now; once the agenda is set, that may change


Neil said:

Thanks Steph. Keep up the good work.

About this: ...authorize the DPW's installation of temporary lane closures on Lincoln Ave. and Sunset Ave. (per the PowerPoint printout from our packet: Figure 9 - Half Closure Option) to evaluate their effectiveness for traffic calming, prior to September 8, 2009

Do you have a link to the referenced material?

Hi Neil --

The link is here. You want page 14 of that document.

Abbie said:

So I've looked at the DPW document on Lincoln and Sunset. Can you explain to me why folks that live on Lincoln and Sunset have a "reasonable" expectation that there should be "less" traffic on those roads. I use the word "those" rather than "their" because it isn't "their" road. It is a public thoroughfare and I for one think I have the right as a tax-payer to use it in the most efficient manner to get to and from my house on Dana St to the University.

I can understand they have a "reasonable" expectation of cars adhering to the speed limit but I think this is an excellent example of "special" interests and NIMBYism. I can tell you if I lived on Fearing between Lincoln and N. Pleasant I would be LIVID. As it is I am just plain pissed that my 5 minute commute could now take 20 minutes or more, depending on how this foolish plan pans out. Considering I sometimes make 3 trips/day that would translate into take a couple hours out of my day. Gee thanks folks. Those that bought houses on Lincoln in the not too distant past bought it knowing it was on a main thoroughfare, if they didn't then its their mistake and the community shouldn't bear the burden of changing the roads to suit the local residents. Whereas we bought our house because of the easy, direct, and fast access to UMass by car or bike. Sure, we get lots of UMass traffic on our road (with no sidewalks and 30mph) but its a "public road". My only legit grip is the speeding.

I also can't imagine that businesses in town would like these options. It will bring a lot of nonproductive (ie nonconsumer) traffic into the center of town. While some cars will use University, some will go through town. It will be a traffic nightmare.

I wonder how the school bus would manage with any of the new proposals. I drive, walk or ride my bike daily on Lincoln and Sunset (bike, ride) and if cars did not speed I don't think its that big of a deal.

I hope the incident of the jogger struck by a car last spring is NOT being used to drive this move. As my husband and I are PRIMARY witnesses to this accident (and each spent 2 wonderful hours giving our depositions) we can tell you this was not an incident where the driver bears the majority of the responsibility (at best, 50%, in my opinion). My advice- don't run out into the road in front of a car.

I am all for traffic calming, which in my mind means reducing speed. When did "traffic calming" shift to creating virtual "private" roads for Lincoln and Sunset?

Abbie said:

How much is this new traffic "reducing" effort going to cost the Amherst tax-payer or is it being paid by the Lincoln-Sunset PAC?

I share many of your concerns about this, and I hear from A LOT of other people who do too. So I'll give you some sense of my thinking about it.

Lots of Town government issues boil down to one party identifying a "problem" that needs to be solved, while another party doesn't even agree that there's a problem. (Zoning, parking, schools... it's a long list.) Often there is no definitive right or wrong answer -- just judgment calls. The challenge then is how to avoid "government by squeaky wheel," and for me, the way to do that is with process.

As anyone from the Lincoln neighborhood can tell you, there has been a lot of pressure and a lot of proposals over a long period of time, so it is not as though the Town is doing this rashly and on a whim. The DPW and the Town Manager have been extremely deliberative about this, and the fact that this proposal has advanced where so many others have not, to me demonstrates that the internal processes are working. If they were simply trying to quiet squeaky wheels, more dramatic changes would have been implemented long ago, because that was what the neighbors were seeking.

I was at the Public Works Committee meeting last fall when the group considered and rejected several proposals for dealing with the Lincoln Ave. situation, and I was really impressed by their thoroughness and thoughtfulness. (And frankly, I was amazed by the outcome, because I had expected the opposite.) At a subsequent meeting that I was not at, they considered and supported this new proposal. Having witnessed the former, I have a lot of faith in the latter. So I feel good about that part of the process as well.

And the thing to keep in mind is that this is a test. (It will last about four weeks, at the beginning of the school year in the fall.) If this creates more problems than it solves, then it will obviously not be a viable solution. But maybe it will have good outcomes -- we can't know for sure until we give it a shot. So a test seems like good process to me as well. (Personally, I think the problem would be solved by putting a stop light at the intersection of Fearing and University. Anyone looking to turn left on to U Dr. needs a light to do so, so you need to take Lincoln or Sunset to get to Amity for that light. At least that's what I do... That intersection is owned by UMass, and maybe this test would highlight that need.)

So I'm still a bit skeptical, but I do think it's worth a try. The general opposition to change and fear of its consequences is something I feel plagues Amherst, so when I realized I was guilty of the same with the Lincoln Ave. stuff, it woke me up. Now I support trying this. If it turns out to be a good option -- great. If it doesn't, at least we'll know.

Per your Q of how much it will cost -- I don't know. I suspect very little. These will just be temporary-type barriers that the DPW already has -- not landscaped permanent traffic islands like are shown in the PowerPoint. There will be some cost for labor and some signs, but nothing outrageous.



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