Letter to the Editor: Keegan Weighs in on Dedham Square Improvement Project
The following letter to the editor was written by Dedham Town Administrator William G. Keegan, Jr.
While everyone respects the ability of anyone to freely express their sentiments about something that they dislike, it is also equally important to respond to comments that are factually incorrect and do not reflect the accurate accounting of what has or is taking place.
I am writing in response to the letter to the editor that has been listed in several media sources during the week Aug. 12-18. The letter was from Dan O'Neil and was entitled "Did Any Intelligent Rational Thought Go Into Plan for Dedham Square?"
The Dedham Square Improvement Project has been in the development stage for the better part of five years and during that time there has been no less than 35 public hearings on this topic. This number of meetings is in addition to the other 40-plus meetings that were held to review designs, evaluate options and to consider quality control measures for this project.
In fact, during the planning period, BETA Engineering the design engineers for this project, made several adjustments to the plans that were a direct result of input from the public. Most notably the initial design restriction pertaining to vehicle left-turn movement at the intersection of Washington Street and High Street was removed as a direct result of public input.
The public vetting process for this project was significant and began early on with several conceptual discussions that were held in public hearing forums at Dedham Town Hall. These meetings were very well attended by business owners, residents who live in Dedham Square and by interested parties throughout Dedham who have an expressed interest in the revitalization of Dedham Square. These meetings were forums for public debate regarding what options could work in the Square or what options would not function well at all.
For anyone who follows Dedham as a town, one thing that is always of primary concern to the elected and appointed leaders of the town is communication and identifying the concerns of neighbors. While reasonable people can sometimes disagree as to how the outcome will look, it is also accurate to state that in Dedham it is very rare for a public project to begin without fulfilling the opportunity for public input and debate. It is also true that whenever new project reviews occur, these meetings will always include proponents and skeptics of a project. That makes for healthy and often productive debate.
Mr. O'Neil's letter suggests that the town did not take the opportunity to consider other options before starting this important project. That understanding and sentiment could not be further from the truth. The town has and continues to listen to those impacted by the construction and has made adjustments as necessary to limit such impacts. However, in the end, some level of inconvenience is going to occur regardless of whatever actions are taken- because quite simply, construction is inconvenient.
It appears that Mr. O'Neil's comments are based on what he has witnessed during one phase of construction. He suggests that the current street layout on High Street will not work and is poorly designed. However, the present status of the street is that it is only partially complete. One look at the project plans reveals that there will be two travel lanes in front of the Police Station heading east on High Street. The present travel lanes have been temporarily restricted until the full alignment of the road can be achieved. To relieve some of the present restriction, the contractor has re-striped the road this week to provide for added temporary capacity. The final road capacity will not be achieved until the present traffic signal is removed from the middle of the road and the new overhead signals are installed. The present construction schedule calls for that change to occur at the end of September.
Another inaccurate comment relates to certain on-street parking designs. Mr. O'Neil stated that the use of "angle" parking in front of the Centre Deli would not work. The facts are that "angle" parking is not and has never been proposed for this area. "Parallel" parking is scheduled for this area and that is not a change from what has been provided historically in this location.
We encourage Mr. O'Neil to take the opportunity to review the very informative website that provides the full realm of construction improvements along with the updated construction schedule and activities that are occurring in this project on a weekly basis. This website also provides a reference source for the conceptual plans as to how the Square will look when the project is complete. Conceptual pictures depicting the finished Square Project can also be seen in the Town Hall lobby.
The website for the Project can viewed by simply clicking on www.dedhamsquareproject.com and most of the information anyone needs can be addressed through this resource.
If there are additional questions or concerns that cannot be addressed through the website, one can contact the Dedham Engineering Department at 781-751-9350 or the Dedham Town Administrator's Office at 781-751-9100.
We are here to help if we can.
William G. Keegan, Jr.
Dedham Town Administrator