March 14 2017
Selectmen Decide Not to Remove 'Do Not Enter' Signs from Church Lane
By: Rich Hosford
The Board of Selectmen discussed, and rejected, a proposal to remove “Do Not Enter” signs from Church Lane that restrict morning traffic during a packed meeting on Monday.
Approximately 50 residents of the Church Lane neighborhood, which includes people living off side streets, were at the meeting to voice their opposition to the removal of the signs that restrict traffic from Cambridge Street between the hours of 7 to 9 a.m.
The issue was brought up at the last Board of Selectmen meeting when resident Joyce Baylor asked that the board consider removing the signs. She pointed to selectmen meeting minutes from 1995 when then Police Chief Soda reported that the department recommended removing the “Do Not Enter” signs. At the time the Board of Selectmen voted to keep the signs in place until sidewalks were installed on the road.
Baylor said the sidewalks have long since been built and that according to the Traffic Advisory Committee the road does not meet the criteria to have the restriction. She added that Burlington Police Safety Officer Bernie Schipelliti also told her she didn’t think the sign belonged there.
The reason Baylor said she was seeking the removal of the restriction was to ease congestion at the Town Center lights during morning rush hour. She says that she lives in the north part of Burlington and must travel by the Town Center everyday in her commute to work on Mall Road. She said she often has to wait two to three cycles at the light at the intersection of Cambridge Street and Bedford Street and that the most logical route would be to go down Church Lane.
On Monday night three residents of the Church Lane neighborhood spoke on behalf of the gathered crowd against the removal of the signs.
Paul Gilpin, a Pine Vale Avenue resident who’s been in neighborhood for 17 years, said it was a matter of safety. He said the neighborhood has many small children who stand at bus stops during that time of the morning. Church Lane also run alongside Simonds Park, which brings people to the area who either walk or park on the side of the road.
“ I think it’s a question of you guys considering convenience over safety, that’s how I see it,” he said.
One major issue, Gilpin, along with residents Tara Kosinski and Dona O’Brien, is that Church Lane is very narrow and it is difficult for two vehicles to pass going in opposite directions. This creates a dangerous situation for any pedestrians walking or standing on the side of the road. They said that adding vehicles during rush hour would not be safe.
“The residents are asking that during high traffic times to give neighborhood a little consideration,” Gilpin said. “Residents of this neighborhood shouldn’t have to pay for convenience of others.”
The residents also argued that opening up Church Lane in the morning wouldn’t solve the congestion problem. They said it would just move some of the problem to the intersection of Church Lane and Bedford Street.
Members of the Board of Selectmen agreed with the Church Lane residents in the end, but they did have some discussion about it.
Selectman Mike Runyan said he didn’t think it was a cut and dry situation.
“Church Lane is a public way and to deny the public access to it for two hours is something we have to keep in consideration,” he said. “The thing is, once you have something it’s hard to take it away. I think that’s an example of what we have here.”
Selectman Chris Hartling, who two weeks ago said he was in favor of taking down the signs, said on Monday he had reconsidered after hearing from many residents of the neighborhood.
Chairman of the Board Daniel Grattan also said he could see both sides. He pointed out that the roads are maintained by taxes paid for by Burlington residents and that the street doesn’t conform to the guidelines from the Traffic Advisory Committee. In the end, however, he said it was the narrowness of the street that convinced him to keep the morning restriction in place.
In the end nobody on the board made a motion to remove the “Do Not Enter” restriction.
Selectman Bob Hogan went a step further and made a motion saying it was the board’s wish that the restriction remain in place forever. The vote on that motion was 3-0-2 with Hartling and Runyan abstaining.