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North Suburban News

Wakefield Looks to Revitalize Downtown

Mar 13, 2019 08:28AM ● By Lisa Redmond

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WAKEFIELD – Hundreds of yellow notes were taped to maps of downtown Wakefield, as residents wrote comments about parking, pedestrian safety, and more generating questions, concerns and ideas following the first of several public meetings to discuss plans to revitalize the downtown.

During the first hearing held on Feb. 19, Selectman Edward Dombroski Jr. explained it is an exciting and timely initiative to improve the downtown that has been “many years’’ in the works.

The downtown revitalization project will coincide with Wakefield receiving state funding for infrastructure improvements, such as a new water main and sewer work, in the downtown area, Dombrowski said.

“This is a unique opportunity to leverage those projects with state funding,’’ Dombroski said.  The total project is estimated to cost $11 million with the town contributing $1 million and the state paying the remaining $10 million, he said.

“The downtown has tremendous charm that we want to restore and enhance, but also make it 21st Century compatible,’’ Dombrowski told the crowd that gathered at the Galvin Middle School.

At the November 2018 Town Meeting, voters approved spending $331,000 to hire VHB, a civil-engineering, consulting and design firm, to conduct a study and provide a design for Phase 1 of the town’s downtown revitalization project. 

VHP’s goal was to help the town conceptualize improved multimodal transportation and accessibility, enhanced aesthetics and create a unique identity for the town. The study looked at South Main, Middle Main, Water, Albion, North Main streets and the streets they intersect.

VHP spokesman Jeffrey Logan outlined the report on the firm’s “preliminary observations’’ of the target areas and asked the audience to provide input, via yellow notes, of problems, concerns and suggestions for improvements. The VHP team of designers, engineers and planners looked at the area some specific improvements need to be focused on parking, pedestrian access and safety, traffic circulation, lighting, sight lines and aesthetics.

Angle parking in the downtown and connecting streets creates issues especially for vehicles that need to change direction. Pedestrian and bicycle access and safety is an issue on many streets with pedestrians having to walk in between parked cars to cross.

According to the town, the second public meeting will take place on Thursday, March 21 at 7 p.m. in the Galvin Middle School. In this meeting, VHB will provide an analysis of the feedback and data received thus far and review initial project concepts

Specially the “emerging issues’’ are as follows:

·         Middle Main Street - 1) Pedestrian safety crossing Main Street, very wide with no median 2) Varying roadway width 3) Bicycle and pedestrian safety along angled parking 4) Lack of pedestrian amenities, such as street lighting, and sight lines.

·         South Main Street (by the Galvin) – 1) Pedestrian crossing at Galvin Middle School 2) Galvin Middle School driveway operations 3) Parent drop-off and pick-up activity on Main Street 4) Varying road widths, lack of lane definition 5) Signal operations and queues.

·         Water Street – 1) Shaw’s parking lot entrance/exit 2) Vehicle queuing 3) Parking 4) Roadway alignment 5) Cut-through traffic.

·         North Main Street - 1) Intersection operations 2) Parking circulation/pedestrian safety 3) Intersection operations/safety and sight line.

·         Middle Main Street at Water Street Intersection – 1) Pedestrian circulation 2) Pedestrian amenities 3) Water Street vehicular circulation 4) Bus loading/waiting zones 5) Adjacent parking lots.

·         North Main Street at Common Street – 1) Lack of pedestrian walkway along west side of street 2) Lack of curb at park, close proximity of historic fence 3) Lack of pedestrian crossings 4) Narrow sidewalk with wide tree strip.

·         North Main Street at Lake Avenue  – 1) Pedestrian approach to the lake 2) Angled parking results in vehicle turn around to exit, pedestrian conflicts 3) Prohibited use of church parking lot 4) Spaulding Street pedestrian/vehicle definition.

·         Rockery Intersection – 1) Pedestrian circulation and amenities 2) Rockery is overgrown, height blocks visibility for cross traffic and fountain 3) Poor pedestrian access to monuments, non-ADA compliant.

·         Albion Street  – 1) Lack of pedestrian crossings 2) Accessibility at the intersection 3) Pedestrian crossing distance and lack of stop control.

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