Listed on the City Council agenda for Tuesday October 11th, is the presentation by Mike Hale and Dan Smith on the Tally’s corner project timeline.
As stated in the Safe and Accessible Streets Plan (SAASP) policy signed by the Mayor, a requirement of the process is for the DPW Director to collaborate with and solicit input with several entities on major reconstruction projects. To date, this has not taken place with the area businesses or residents. We are interested to know which City departments were consulted during the planning phase? Was the City’s Fire Department consulted for emergency vehicle access? Given Coastal Zone Management’s jurisdiction over DPA areas, were they approached to weigh in?
SAASP Policy: 3. Procedure for creating more safe and accessible streets:
“…the Public Works Director shall collaborate and share information with departments, residents, developers and other organizations on annual street maintenance plans and major reconstruction projects by soliciting questions and concerns to ensure safety and accessibility for all users with a context sensitive approach.”
According to the State MA DOT Funding Priority Program chart, this proposal does not consider Freight Operations as a criteria of the project. How does a project go forward without such considerations on a DPA roadway which has a primary function to service businesses on Commercial Street? How does this meet the criteria of a context sensitive approach?
In the 2012 hotel development traffic study, by their own engineers, there was no such finding for major reconstruction necessary for this area. Their recommendations consisted of lane designations and signage.
The joint Ward meeting on September 15th, held after the proposal was submitted to the State for stage Tier III funding, produced much concern and no support for the plan. There are several Commercial Street business owners expressing deep concern over this proposal as having a potential negative impact on their business operations. There have been assurances made by the City there is latitude to make modifications to the plan.
Given the lack of public process, lack of collaboration with City departments and omission of any detailed plans provided to City Council during the approval stages, this proposal should be pulled back for further review.
We once again ask when and to what extent public input will be solicited to produce a plan which serves to support area businesses, provide user safety, enhance aesthetics and produce a cost effective solution.
Patti Page, EG consultant, of Gloucester, is retired from a career in federal fisheries regulatory compliance work and a past member of the City’s Waterways Board. She is a founder and director of Sail GHS, the sailing program for students across Cape Ann, and is dedicated to a broad range of working waterfront advocacy issues.