Traffic-calming measures planned for North and Station Street; high school field irrigation questioned

August 26, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer

The new mixed-use building at the corner of North and Station streets is nearing completion, but before any occupancy permits can be issued, Developer Matt Falconeiri is required as part of the earlier permitting process to develop a traffic-calming plan to enhance pedestrian safety in the area.

The proposal requires approval by the Selectmen and other town officials. The board will vote on the plan at its next meeting (see details below), which allows board members and citizens who listened in at last night's remote Selectmen's meeting to drive by the area with the traffic-calming presentation in mind if they wish to do so, and/or to provide input before the vote.

The development at 6 Station St. includes four spacious upscale condominium units -- two on each of the second and third floors -- and a single retail space on the first floor.

Katia Orth, owner and operator of kloTH Hingham, has announced recently that her specialty storehouse will be relocating from 28 South St. to that spot, where the dilapidated Settles Glass building once stood.

The traffic-calming plan proposed by the development team includes the eventual posting of radar speed signs designed to slow fast-moving motorists down by alerting them to the speed at which they are traveling.

Also part of the proposal is a painted island rather than a physical one as a way to "visually narrow" Station Street where it leads to North Street "without impeding the actual flow of traffic," according to Community Planning Director Mary Savage-Dunham. "It's a visual cue to motorists approaching North Street to slow down."

The proposed plan also calls for the elimination of one parking space to enhance sight distance (the length of roadway visible to a driver).

Selectmen Chair Mary Power had high praises for Falconeiri. "It looks beautiful -- like it fits in and was always there," she said. "The quality of your work and what you do in this town is very much appreciated."

Selectman William Ramsey recused himself because he is an abutter.

In other business at the meeting:

* The Selectmen signed an amendment to the lease agreement with Vista Verde Corp. for the Greenside Grille restaurant and the banquet facilities at the town-owned South Shore Country Club.

Instead of paying a flat rate rent of $8,000 monthly, they will temporarily pay an adjusted rent to more evenly reflect their sales at a sliding monthly rate of 3.8 percent times the monthly sales figures, with a minimum monthly $2,650 rent payment. The situation will be reevaluated in November.

"COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the restaurant business all over the world," Power said. "The quality of [the dining experience] at SSCC has increased over time, and if the restaurant is not operational, there would be a significant [financial] liability to the town."

SSSC Management Committee member Christine Smith said the committee "fully supports this [temporary] rent relief."

*During an update about the system-wide outdoor watering ban currently in place, Pleasant Street resident Beth Rockoff questioned the frequent watering of the grass fields in the area of the high school. "It's disheartening to see this while other citizens are obeying the rules. Even though there's a well, the water is coming from the same aquifer."

Weir River Water System Managing Director/Superintendent Russell Tierney said he spoke with school officials recently and they agreed to cut back on the watering. He plans to continue that conversation on Friday. "A lot of money was spent to rehab the fields, and if we lose them, it will cost the town some money [to restore them]," he said.

Power herself noticed the fields being watered recently when she was driving down Union Street. She talked with Town Administrator Tom Mayo and Tierney about cutting back on irrigating the fields, "because it doesn't look good."

Rockoff, while appreciating these efforts, said the same applies to residents who have planted new grass, bushes, etc., referring to money spent that would be lost if they aren't watered. "It does look bad when you see the watering system [at the high school] on every day," she said.

Tierney also reported that since the outdoor watering ban was implemented a few weeks ago, the height of Accord Pond -- a main water source -- has risen significantly.  He said he expects the restrictions, which ban all outdoor watering, will continue for another two weeks. "The recent rain has helped," he said.

Tierney said he has responded to complaints reporting businesses and residences who are violating the ban and takes each one seriously and investigates each one. He encouraged residents who observe such violations to file a complaint.

* The Selectmen made appointments to two town committees and one commission. Town Moderator Michael Puzo will also appoint members to each of those:

* Tree preservation by-law committee, with the purpose of reviewing current town by-laws to encourage the preservation of trees on private property where significant demolition or construction is proposed: Lauren Galvin, Katie McBrine, Priya Howell (who proposed the by-law, which passed at this year's Town Meeting), and Heather Kaas.

* Commission on disabilities -- Stephanie Gertz, Keith Jermyn, and Diane DeNapoli, with more members to be named."Diane brought to the town's attention that this commission was no longer active, which we appreciated," Power said.  "We decided to reengage it, and she was instrumental in bringing some candidates forth for the town's consideration in appointing some of the commission members."

* Senior center building committee -- Beth Rouleau, Sally O'Hare, and former town hall building committee member Tom Carey.

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