A Tree Grows In Mattapoisett

Town Administrator Michael Gagne held a public information and feedback meeting tonight to discuss road improvements for Beacon Street, Main Street, Marion Road, and Water Street. This meeting is the first in a proposed series to gather public input on the types of improvements needed on these roads, along with understanding the special needs associated with them. With roadway improvements high on the town’s list of necessary investments, Highway Supervisor Barry Denham along with Gagne are working toward creative ways to secure funding for parts of a larger master plan.

The town has engaged CHA professional engineers to help Mattapoisett scope out the project, collect feedback, and then begin the technical work needed to submit the project to the state for financial support. John Morgan of CHA gave a presentation, which outlined the processes necessary for such complex public roadwork complete with the types of state oversight that can be anticipated, engineering disciplines, cost estimates, and timeframe. Morgan noted three basic areas that are driving the need for this work: current pavement conditions, need for pedestrian and bicycle safety, and storm water management.

Those in attendance agreed that storm water and water drainage are a real problem. It became clear during the question and answer period that all areas upland of the village are impacting the lower village streets with water. Several residents pointed to aging drains and catch basins, misguided earlier attempts, the incorrect placement of storm drains, and other irregularities causing some Water Street properties to become de facto wetlands and storm water pools.

Other residents pointed to the need to be cognizant of trees that provide the area with its unique village quality, such as the singular linden tree on Water Street, the last such tree on town property. Ray Andrews, whose family has property adjacent to the tree said that his family would rather consider moving their antique stone wall than lose the tree during road improvements. Sandy Hering of the Tree Committee wanted to visit the possibility of having utilities moved to underground conduits thereby solving the issues that arise when mature trees fight for air space with utility wiring. Bonnie DaSouza wanted the project committee to be aware of historic sidewalk curbing along Water Street and hoped any work in that location wouldn’t negatively impact the old stone curbs.

Other considerations will include environmental impact, parking accommodations, easements, and right-of-ways. From Morgan’s presentation, the project will address: road conditions, storm water management, environmental protection enhancements, and safety. It must comply with: right-of-way, environmental compliance, and design criteria. And it must satisfy: abutters, the community at large, the Highway Department, the Conservation Commission, Mass DOT, DEP, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

The current estimate to repair and improve the 1.5 miles of streets in this project is $3.6 million. If the project is accepted by the state, it would be have oversight from SRPEDD and would take approximately two years to complete.

By Marilou Newell 

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