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Freeport street extension plan needs more work

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Freeport street extension plan needs more work

FREEPORT — The Traffic and Parking Committee on Tuesday approved a four-way stop sign at the intersection of Park and School streets, but unexpectedly tabled a proposal to extend School Street to Bow Street after a two-hour discussion.

The plan to extend School Street to Bow Street is connected to a proposal to expand and develop Bow Street Market, a store owned by Adam and Sheila Nappi.

Adam Nappi said the street expansion is critical to the development, will help connect the neighborhoods, better serve the residents and allow for better traffic flow.

At a previous neighborhood meeting, Nappi said he would pay to build the road extension in exchange for a tax increment financing district designation that would allow him some future tax revenue generated by the new value of the developed land. He said the cost of the expansion has yet to be determined.

The plan to extend School Street includes a proposal for two, 10-foot travel lanes; two, 4-foot paved shoulders, and a 5-foot curbed sidewalk.

While Chairman Gary Profenno said he was comfortable with the size of the road, he had serious concerns about controlling the traffic flow from Main Street to Bow Street, pedestrian walkways and truck traffic.

"We are here to look at the safety concerns of the proposal," he said.

Committee member Andrew Manning suggested the committee look at individual components of the plan – traffic calming measures, landscaping, and grading – and then approve specific motions based on each.

"We don't want to put the cart before the horse," he said of approving the plan without looking at specific details. "If we can make a group of specific recommendations within the plan, then the Project Review Board and Town Council can act on it."

Cost has not yet been discussed either, he said.

Other concerns mentioned include the lack of sidewalks on both sides of School Street, the possibility of heavy truck traffic, the steep grade of the road in certain areas and how to control traffic using either landscaping, speed tables or selective narrowing.

Residents of the Park and School Street neighborhoods who attended the 7:30 a.m. meeting spoke of their concerns about speed and noise on the extension. While they said it shouldn't be construed as an attack against Nappi and his store, they are concerned that residents have not been heard and commercial property owners had an upper hand.

"Most of my neighbors won't come to these meetings anymore because they feel they are ignored," said Kelly Fitz-Randolph of 19 East St.

Scott Gleeson of 23 Park St.  said the extension will increase traffic through his neighborhood and create a negative impact to the area.

"People will cut from Main Street to Bow Street," he said. "I have a problem with adding more traffic. It is not what I bought into six years ago when I moved here."

But Anne-Marie Davee, school health coordinator, said she would endorse the plan as is. Speaking on behalf of the schools, she said the plan to extend School Street would allow more children more to bike and walk between Morse Street and Mast Landing Schools.

"We want the children to use it," she said.

As a way to identify specific concerns within the plan, a subcommittee made up of members of the Traffic and Parking Committee, the Project Review Board, neighbors from School and Park streets, the fire chief, police chief, Public Works director and staff will discuss and design a proposal. The Traffic and Parking Committee and Project Review Board will also go on a site walk of the proposed area.

Although the committee took no action on the extension Tuesday morning, Nappi said the meeting went better than expected and was pleased there was agreement on the road size.

"The work of the ad-hoc advisory will be very helpful providing positive suggestions toward addressing issues that were raised by committee members," he said in an e-mail Tuesday. "We will continue to work diligently balancing the needs of the neighbors, safety and public benefits to the residents of the Town while working within the financial capacity of this public private partnership."

The committee is expected to vote on the subcommittee proposal by the next meeting in March. The site walk is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at the parking lot at the end of School Street. The subcommittee meeting will be Thursday, Feb. 25, at 3 p.m. at Town Hall. Both gatherings are open to the public.

The committee will inform the council of its decision to install a four-way stop sign at School and Park streets, and will post speed signs indicating a 25-mph limit along Park and East streets. They also directed the fire and police chiefs and director of Public Works to coordinate the signs.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net