Select Board Votes to Improve Traffic Safety
The Holliston Select Board convened for its weekly meeting on Monday, June 27, 2022. Chair Ben Sparrell called the meeting to order at 7:00pm to attend to what he called a “robust” agenda. Findings and recommendations related to two engineering studies were on the docket.
Below, David Steeves, Project Architect (left) and Jeff Alberti, Chief Operating Officer (right) from the engineering firm of Weston and Sampson presented the final report of their feasibility study related to the current and possible future states of the Town’s Department of Public Works (DPW) facilities.
The presentation summarized the 217-page report that is posted on the Town website – > DPW Draft Final Report
Messrs. Alberti and Steeves reviewed some of the background presented when they met with the Board on April 5, 2022. Below are some of the “review” slides – note the reduction in needed space on the third slide.
As in the earlier presentation, the most viable town-owned property was land behind the Pinecrest golf course (shown below).
The recommended access to the site would be by constructing a road from Prentice Street along the western edge of what is now the driving range. The road would require about 30 feet of the range. (See below). Mr. Cronin pointed out that the entrance at that point on Prentice is preferable for sight line safety. The Board asked Weston & Sampson to include average daily vehicle trips to / from the proposed DPW facility.
Following the April meeting, Weston & Sampson examined two other properties in town: 20 Cross Street (aka Axton-Cross) and 56 Lowland (aka Flexhead). Weston & Sampson expects any new combined facility to need at least 6.5 acres for adequate building, storage, and traffic flow. Both properties meet that criterion. For a variety of reasons neither property would be acceptable at this time.
Then the dialogue focused on cost. Weston & Sampson is currently working with several municipalities on similar projects. Based on their experience, Holliston can expect costs similar to the illustration below.
Translating the cost / square foot shown above the total cost could be what’s illustrated below.
Mrs. Hein asked for more detail on the costs of decommissioning the current properties – for possible sale in the future to recoup some of the building costs. She also asked that OSHA requirements be highlighted in the report.
Below is a list of benefits that could be derived from the investment in a modern consolidated DPW facility.
Joan Levinsohn (above)
- Noted that in the first presentation, Weston & Sampson did not include any disadvantages to the Prentice St. site while disadvantages were cited for the other two Town properies.
- Asked about the projected number of trees that would be lost if the Prentice St. site was chosen. Mr. Steeves shared information compiled by Weston & Sampson environmental specialists that suggest that “in the long run, savings from solar panels on the facility would provide a net positive for the environment.
- She asked that ground source heat pumps be considered in the construction of a new facility.
The Board thanked Messrs. Steeves and Alberti for the excellent, honest, thorough report.
The Board voted to accept the final report (including the OSHA, trip count, and decommissioning costs). There will be a Public Forum to review the DPW proposals – sometime in August.
Traffic Advisory Committee Update:
Holliston Police Chief Matthew Stone (below), current Chair of the Traffic Advisory Committee (TAC) met with the Board to discuss two topics: the TAC organization and effectiveness; and TAC recommendations to improve traffic / pedestrian safety at the Highland / Hollis intersection and the Highland / Prentice intersection.
The TAC was created to provide a mechanism for citizens to present traffic / pedestrian safety concerns to the Town leaders. Recently, the TAC conducted a look back at its work and effectiveness since its inception.
Chief Stone presented the findings from that review:
- Doing Well:
- Resolve issues
- Acquiring traffic equipment
- Petition format is helpful
- Could Improve:
- In person meetings (most of the time the TAC has existed has been during the pandemic)
- Greater transparency / communication regarding the Committee’s work / progress
- Fewer members to make meeting a quorum more possible (currently 9 members)
- Better way to hear from petitioners
- Current TAC members voted to recommend a 5-member committee
- The five members would be: Public Safety representative, Public Works representative, Schools representative, and 2 citizens: one ‘at-large’ and one with engineering knowledge
The Board thanked Chiefs Stone and Cassidy and DPW Director Reese (who were in the room) for their work to date to get the TAC up and running and progress towards safer roadways / sidewalks in Holliston. Mr. Cronin sees this as an “evolution” of the TAC.
The Board accepted the recommended change in the number of TAC members and the membership profile.
Chief Stone moved on to present three recommendations from the TAC related to the recently released traffic study by McMahon and Associates. McMahon studied traffic flow at the Highland / Hollis intersection and the Highland / Prentice intersection.
The TAC recommended actions are as follows:
- Create all-way stops at the Highland / Prentice and Highland / Hollis intersections as shown below from the McMahon report. The stop signs would have the flashing LED lights currently in place at the Church / Railroad Sts. Intersection. These signs need to be ordered and would take some time to arrive.
- Upgraded signage on the approaches to the intersections to alert drivers to the upcoming stop. HPD’s portable traffic message boards will be used to alert drivers to the new traffic pattern when it is fully operational.
- The new sidewalks and crosswalks included in the McMahon report be added to the Town’s 5-year Capital Improvement Plan.
Below, Kelly and Stuart Primus who live at 811 Highland, had concerns that the current branch of Hollis that connects to northbound Highland has a stop sign. They wondered if the additional signs would confuse drivers trying to yield right of way to the other drivers at the all-way stop.
There is a need for a crosswalk to safely get from the west side of Highland to the east side. Mr. Primus shared that some neighbors actually drive their students across the road.
The Primuses neighbor, Carrie Russo reinforced the urgent need for a crosswalk to reduce the stress endured by adults and students trying to get to school.
Ms. Russo also asked if the landscaping in the current traffic island can be trimmed down to improve the sightline as you look left from Hollis. Local business, Tree Specialist, voluntarily maintains those areas and will be asked to trim the vegetation.
The Board wondered how / where a crosswalk could be created on Highland as there are currently no sidewalks on either side.
Norfolk St. resident Vin Murphy (on the shores of Lake Winthrop? below) cited that in fact there is a crosswalk across Norfolk St. to access Stoddard Park – currently no sidewalks on either side of Norfolk.
The Board voted to approve the three recommendations for improving traffic safety in the Highland, Hollis, Prentice area with a planned review by TAC one-year after the signs are installed to measure progress. Chief Stone pointed out that improved traffic / pedestrian safety is a trade off with traffic flow – the TAC and Select Board have voted for safety.
Below is a drawing from the McMahon that Mr. Ahern presented as a “side letter” for the Board’s approval. It involves McMahon’s plan for rebuilding the Highland / Hollis intersection to facilitate large trucks turning. The Board approved the “side letter.”
- Mrs. Hein:
- Trash pick-up next week will be delayed one day due to Independence Day holiday.
- Holliston’s Household Hazardous Waste Day is July 9, 2022, at R.A.M.S. from 8 – noon (or when full)
- Mr. Cronin:
- Noted that Hank Tamango, a long-time resident, Lions Club member, and advocate for eye health, sold his home and wishes him well wherever he goes.
- Mr. Sparrell:
- Thanked Senate President Spilka for finalizing the $1 Million grant from the State for dam rehabilitation (see Other Business below)
- Reported that as of Monday morning, 644 people had responded to the Envisioning Future Holliston survey. The goal to have at least 1,000 responses by August 1, 2022. He encouraged high school and college students on summer break to provide their input -> Envision Future Holliston Survey
- Mr. and Mrs. Primus (seen above) had four questions for the Board:
- If the DPW facility is located on Prentice St., will a study be done regarding increased traffic? Yes, the Board asked Weston & Sampson to include a vehicle trip count in their final report
- Can Hollis Street have a Heavy Commercial Vehicle Exclusion (HCVE)? No, the current truck traffic does not meet the MassDOT threshold for Heavy Commercial Vehicle traffic.
- McMahon and Assoc were not at the last Traffic Advisory Committee meeting (as requested) – to whom should the Primuses direct their questions for McMahon? Mr. Ahern should receive the questions (copy to Mrs. Hein) to forward on to McMahon.
- Will any future road construction in front of their house be made aware of the geological features beneath their property and road? Yes.
- Mr. and Mrs. Primus (seen above) had four questions for the Board:
Fiscal Year 2022 Financial Close
The Board approved ten Line Item transfers totaling $615,426. The Town Accountant provided the list. Further transfers may be up until July 15, 2022.
Warrants The Board approved the weekly expenses totaling – $367,475.53
Comments from Town Administrator: Mr. Ahern shared the following with the Board:
The updated 5-year CIP has been posted to the Town website -> 5-year Capital Improvement Plan FY 23- 27. The goal of posting this plan is to provide background for citizens so they can understand the needs across the community. The Board thanked Mr. Ahern for his hard work in putting this 50-page document together.
- The complete list of 1 – 3-year committee appointments can be found here -> FY_23_annual_appointments_13_year.pdf (townofholliston.us)
- Looking ahead – the Warrant for the October 2022 Town Meeting will be open for all of August and most of September.
- There is still no decision from the State regarding remote participation at public meetings via Zoom – the current legislation expires on July 15, 2022.
Board Business: The Board took the following actions:
- Approved minutes from the May 23, 2022, meeting.
- Approved an event permit for the Lions’ Club Carnival July 13 – 16, 2022, at the High School
- Appointed Lynne Bajdek a full member of the Council on Aging
- Approved the MWRTA Contract for 2022-2023
- Appointed the committee members as listed / posted (see above). The Town Administrator cited several members of appointed committees who have volunteered to serve the Town for many years and in many ways. Thank you all for your dedication to our community.
- Facilities Contract Awards:
- Senior Center Side Entrance; $30,000
- Town Hall Exterior Painting; $34,950
- DPW Contract Awards:
- Design of Water Mains & Appurtenances for Central Street, Bullard Street, Fiske Street Culvert Crossing and Northway Street – AP Associates; $98,500
- Overlays (repaving) (annual) – Holcim-NER; $788,385
- Sidewalks (annual) – RM Pacella; $78,500
- Curbing (annual) – Aqua Line Utility; $368,100
- 5 culverts – AP Associates; $94,300
- Traffic Markings – K5 Corporation; $29,857.03
- Accepted Chapter 90 reimbursement of $291,174.87
- Renewed the Lease – MetroWest Veterans’ District
- The Board authorized the Town Administrator to execute a contract with the Commonwealth in order to receive $1 Million from the previously approved special acts of 2018 for the purpose of rehabilitation of the Factory Pond dam. Mr. Cronin suggested that all costs above the State funds be requested from the Town’s remaining ARPA grant.
- Mrs. Hein asked for a timeline for the pending MSBA (MA School Building Authority) decision on Holliston’s Statement of Interest on our High School facility.
- Mr. Cronin is looking forward to a joint SB / FinCom meeting to discuss capital priorities. Mr. Sparrell has been communicating with Dr. Szajda to get the meeting scheduled.
There will be NO Select Board meeting next week.
The meeting adjourned at 9:14pm.
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