Letter to the Editor: Mr. O'Neil's Apology About Dedham Square Project

"The last letter I wrote was written in anger and what I should have done was a rebuttal on my position of this project. Included is the letter is an apology to Mr. Keegan and my position on the project and why I feel this way". Dan O'Neil

Dear Editor,

This is going to be my last letter on the subject of the square development project. First off I want to apologize to Mr. Keegan. When I responded to his letter it was in anger. That’s not the way I should have responded to it. Do I have an issue with the charter being changed? Yes. Do I have an issue with his abilities to do the job? No. I do feel the Board of Selectman have given him a little too much power, but do I question his skill set? No.

My response should have been a rebuttal about the project so here we go.  I want to start by stating I have nothing against the square getting a facelift. Could we use new lights? Why not do this.  Can we use some more trees and greenery in the square? Sure. Installing of new benches? Of Course we should.  Putting in the brick crosswalks? Yes.  The ability to make the square handicapped accessible? Absolutely we should. Do we need wider sidewalks to do any of these things? No we don’t.

First off I made an error in first letter as I thought angled parking was going to be put in front of the shops near Centre Deli. That was incorrect and I apologize for the mistake. We all make them. The angled parking is in front of the Police Station. Here’s the thing. That has to be the worst place in town to have that parking especially considering there is consideration being made to move the police station in the future.

Even with the lollipop light gone and a new light with the left turn light installed, if you have business at the station and need to park or there is an emergency and police cruisers need to back out of there in a hurry with that traffic it will be very difficult. There could be an argument that a detail may even be needed to assist in getting cars out of those spaces in rush hour.

The second issue I have is even with a left turn light is it can only be left in one direction for so long. Traffic even before the construction was a nightmare. If cars are backing out of the station and you need to allow cars to go left for roughly 10 seconds in each direction you’re still going to have the same traffic problems and the same angry people commuting.

The other crazy thing with the project is the light at Eastern Avenue where it merges with High Street. The commute from East Dedham through the square is also a mess without a light. Imagine how crazy it will now to have to tackle two lights as if you are going through the square you need to deal with the one in the center too.  The evening commute will be crazy as well as that light at Eastern Ave may also hold up folks who just sat through the nightmarish wait to come into the square from the Needham/Rt. 109 direction.

How anyone can see that this aspect of the project is not going to be a mess is beyond me? So the morning commute will be worse and the afternoon equally worse and then you have to factor in school traffic. While gaining many spots in the lot on Eastern Ave and I do admit that was impressive, you do lose some spots on the street which people covet.

I just don’t see how it is not common sense that smaller streets mean less maneuverability which means more traffic pitfalls? The project looks great on paper, but a lot of sport teams look great on paper too. It doesn’t necessarily mean they create a winning formula. With these changes I feel they have made commuting much worse and I think ultimately this is why businesses will be hurt by this. People who have to struggle to get around the square and struggle to park are not going to shop there it is just reality.

I think there are people here that want the square to be something it is simply not. They want us to be Harvard Square or Newbury Street or some other well to do shopping area. We just aren’t those things. The Celtics ran a campaign and had t-shirts out that ream I am not South Beach, I am not Hollywood. I am Causeway Street. Well I’m High Street and I’m very happy and proud of that. I think the rest of these folks that think this is such a great idea should wake up and want to be High Street too and stop trying to make Dedham something it simply isn’t. We’d all be better off. I disagree with the giant sidewalks. They aren’t necessary to do this project and I feel for the shop owners and I’ll feel even worse when I’m saying I told you so.

I’m not being mean, I’m not being negative. I think I established that by praising many of the projects aspects. I live in the real world. I’m a realist. I tell it like it is as I see it. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. If you want a guy to sugarcoat things then you don’t want me. I hope this clears up my opinion of the project and hopefully clears up a few bad feelings with some folks. I’m not here to stir up trouble, but I don’t like this aspect of the project. I think it’s nonsensical.

Thank you
Dan O’Neil

Yorvis Kalinsky August 30, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Traffic congestion is governed by speed, flow and density. The # of lanes is one component of that complex relationship, as is how the lanes are controlled. The maximum flow—the capacity—occurs at the point when when increased density and decreased speed begins to result in reduced flow. Traffic engineers rate intersections by Level Of Service. So what WAS the LOS for the Square before the project and WILL BE the LOS after the project? My recollection is that the traffic models predicted no change. But the Square isn't all about commuters. It's also about the safety of pedestrians. (I think of the people who are not in their cars in the Square as "shoppers."). There was a conscious effort to INCREASE pedestrian safety. So we get the same type of traffic congestion and increased pedestrian safety. Which means that commuters will still be inconvenienced but people walking from store to store buying things in the Square will have it better.
Dan O'Neil August 30, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Here's my concern Yorvis because my mother walks home from work in that square. More congestion may frustrate people and drivers may be less likely to stop for pedestrians. The traffice flow alone was a reason not enlarge those sidewalks. I just think it's a mistake. Like I said all the other items I agree with.
Jessica Porter August 30, 2012 at 06:57 PM
I think Mr. O'Neil's mother will be much safer walking from the square after the project is finished, just as my children will be much safer walking to/from school. My understanding is the wider sidewalks will make crosswalks shorter and be coupled with new traffic lights which will provide opportunities for pedestrians to cross safely. To Yorvis's point, my recollection from the presentations prior to Town Meeting is that the level of service, for vehicular and pedestrian traffic, will be going from red to yellow or green at almost every intersection. I don't think anyone is under the illusion that this project will fix every complaint about traffic in Dedham Square. But I do think in the end we'll have a much safer square. I'm not at all concerned about inconveniencing commuters from other towns who cut through the square to avoid Rt 1 or 95 traffic but never stop to shop in the square. Rather, I hope these drivers get frustrated with the construction now and find alternate routes, which will further help Dedham drivers, pedestrians, and shop-owners.


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