The Board of Selectmen held a public hearing Thursday night concerning the Gateway to the Manor Project. Many residents from the area were present, and most were hoping for the project to start soon due to safety concerns.
"The gateway of the manor has become a very sensitive subject," Board of Selectman, Jim MacDonald said. "We as a neighborhood would like to see a gateway, to see the improvement to the neighborhood."
The project was brought up originally as a safety issue back in 2001. A lot of residents were concerned about the intersection of Sprague Street and Hooper Road. The plans also involved renovations at "the gateway" where Sprague Street turns toward Hyde Park.
This issue still remains today because it was difficult to come up with a solution, even when it was brought up again in 2008.
Dorothy Victoria lives in the area and was concerned that there were no signs that could help designate traffic better. Victoria was also upset about the increase of traffic and lack of parking.
"We're getting more truck traffic on Sprague Street, ever since the Sprague Street Bridge was fixed," Victoria said. She blames the fact that many truck drivers now see the area as a "cut-through."
For business owners like George Won,Blue Jay restaurant proprietor. He believes that the project is a bad idea, partly because of the lack of parking it would create. And he also felt that it would be "putting a golden gate in front of a condemned house." But he does aknowledge the fact that the roads need to be safer.
Another resident wasm't pleased with Won's statement, she explained to the board why the entrance to the manor needed to be improved.
"Right now it's disrespectful and embarrassing" she said. There's broken glass, there's trash, and it's embarrasing to everyone who lives there and who have pride in there home. If anything, take those jersey barriers down and put up a fence."
The jersey barriers were put up by George Wons. But he explained to the Board that he did have an idea of how to use the space. But he didn't give any details.
"There is something being built," Won said. "And it's not my fault that the barriers are there. A parent came to me and said, 'if my child gets killed since there's no barrier, I will sue you.' So this was the only alternative at that time."
Director of Engineering, Jason Mammone, presented the modified plan and emphasized the importance of coming up with a decision soon.
"In 2008, it would have cost $438,000. But the board of selesctmen allowed us to re-do the map," Mammone said. "We spent $300,000 to improve the sidewalks [so far]. Tonight the cost stands to $600,000 due to fuel prices increasing, contactors going up, and [the cost of] supplies are also going up."
Once the project is approved it may take years for it to be implemented. This is due to the fact that the town would have to search for the funds just to pay for it, according to the Selectmen. But the town needs to agree on a plan first.
"This is why we are having this meeting," Chairman, Carmen Dello Iacono said. "We'll get our input and whatever information that we can get, in order to move forward. Let's get something great out of this".