By Jane Keller Gordon, Contributing Writer
Southborough – The Southborough Main Street Reconstruction conceptual plans are currently on display at the town’s public library. Karen Galligan, Southborough’s superintendent of Public Works, and Library Director Ryan Donovan are encouraging town residents to stop by and review the plans prior to a Special Town Meeting Tuesday, Oct. 18 , at 7 p.m. at the Brent E. Trottier Middle School.
The $7.2 million dollar price tag for the reconstruction plan would be paid for entirely by the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), a five-year capital funding program supported by state and federal money.
“Getting funding through the TIP is a competitive process,” Galligan said. “The Boston Area Metropolitan Planning Organization has to evaluate and prioritize the projects to determine which projects get the state and federal funds allocated to the area.”
Galligan noted that before the Oct. 18 meeting, Southborough’s Main Street Design Working Group will make available a more limited, second version of a reconstruction plan, which would be funded by the town itself.
“It won’t be fully engineered but it will have an estimated cost,” she said.
On Oct. 18, town residents will have the opportunity to vote – for the second time – to authorize their selectman to negotiate easements along the length of this project.
According to Galligan, “without a yes vote on the easements, the federal and state funding will be spent elsewhere.”
Explaining the second vote, Galligan said: “This past April, a bunch of residents contacted the selectman, saying that they didn’t realize that a vote on the project needed to be taken. They were unaware that it would stop the project. [The second vote] is worth it to make sure that everyone has an option to vote.”
Galligan acknowledged that there are contentious divisions among town residents: some feel that the plan would take away from the historic nature of downtown, while others see it as an improvement.
While making it clear she remains unbiased, “if we don’t get (federal and state) money to do this project we still have road failure that we will have to fix,” Galligan said. “We’ll want to fix the sidewalk to meet American Disability Act (ADA) requirements, and improve the base of the road.”
On the main floor of the library, there are seven large poster boards displayed on easels. The plans provide details on the easements, the majority of which are temporary.
“Temporary easements means paying property owners for the inconvenience,” Galligan explained. “For example, the town would loam and seed, but the owner would have to water. Those values are not high. A permanent easement has more value since the property owner would no longer have full use of the piece of property.”
The plans are on display at the library, 25 Main St., during regular hours.
Photos/Jane Keller Gordon