To the Editor:
Recently Select Board member Brian Herr asked, “Where is the harm?” when confronted by Main Street property owners with questions yet to be answered about the Downtown Corridor Project (DCP). I was taken aback by the board’s seeming inability to grasp the numerous hardships facing those of us in the path of Hopkinton’s projected version of the Big Dig. The extent of disruption to homes and businesses may be as difficult to estimate as is the “moving goalpost” costs and details associated with the already over-budgeted DCP.
Personally, and I am but one of nearly 100 downtown property owners, the emotional and financial cost of continuing normal business during the estimated several-yearlong project is immeasurable. Access to 80 Main St. will often be disrupted, street parking will disappear, and several unsubsidized thousands will have to be spent on removing healthy trees and installing a parking lot on Summer Street. Our Downtown Alliance members can’t help but think bureaucrats, including many town and state officials, consider us collateral damage in their push to add to their resumes. Professional engineers have been working hard and getting paid throughout the nine years of planning, tweaking, envisioning, etc., yet it has been revealed that, despite their skills, Hopkinton’s topography continues to stymie all efforts to resolve the original issues. During a Mass. Environmental Agency meeting last month, and in response to the question as to how this project fixes or improves downtown traffic congestion and pedestrian safety, an obviously frustrated engineer admitted that the DCP would “probably not” do the trick. Hopkinton will continue to have a highway running through it, funneling ever more commuters to and from 495, as the project cost inevitably increases.
I feel this attempt to “beautify” downtown Hopkinton, coupled with the encouragement of bicycle traffic with no appreciable safety improvements, will permanently disturb the quality of life for all who live in, work in or attempt to pass through town. The recent Main Street traffic congestion, due to “daytime utility work,” was but a taste of the future. I also believe the dozens of egresses to and from Main Street are challenging enough now without the forced adherence to the state’s “green” and ADA mandates, which include numerous blinking lights and distracting signage.
The enticement of some state money to offset the town’s costs is no longer enough to warrant continuation of this “Wellesley West” design. With the announcement that Hopkinton’s new elementary school is “bursting at the seams,” an East Hopkinton fire station need arising, and the ever-present possibility that a major industrial taxpayer may flee the state, I recommend the Select Board consider the actual needs of the town, cut our losses, and terminate further implementation of this “pretty pony” called the Downtown Corridor Project.
— Rob Phipps, Hopkinton