- May 25, 2006
- Reaction score
Two points:Banker & Tradesman said:Brighton Residents Aren?t High On Idea of Welcoming Lowe?s
By Thomas Grillo
More gridlock. That was the major complaint last week at a public meeting for a proposed Lowe?s Home Center in Brighton.
Three-dozen residents packed the New Balance cafeteria to let city officials know that the neighborhood can?t handle any more traffic. While a Lowe?s transportation engineer promised to study the impact of 4,000 cars trips to the home improvement store on Guest Street, residents were skeptical.
?You can do all the traffic studies you want, but you can only put so much water in a bottle or so many cars in Brighton,? said Redmond Walsh, a longtime resident. ?The city has allowed New Balance, WGBH [television and radio studios] and Stop & Shop here, and the impact is killing us. Why not put Lowe?s in Hyde Park where the mayor lives??
If approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the city?s planning and development agency, the vacant Barry Controls manufacturing plant would be razed to make way for a 180,000-square-foot Lowe?s retail store with parking for 403 cars on the 5-acre site.
In a community meeting hosted by the BRA, neighbors said if Lowe?s gets permission to build the two-level store, it would join several newer projects in the area including a handful of yet-to-be built developments by Boston College and Harvard University. Residents said that the estimated 4,000 cars that the do-it-yourself retailer will attract on weekdays ? and even more on weekends ? will exacerbate an already traffic-choked section of Boston.
Jeffrey Dirk, vice president at Vanasse & Assoc., an Andover-based traffic engineering firm, promised the crowd that he will conduct a comprehensive traffic study to examine 15 intersections along the North Market Street corridor including Soldiers Field Road to Washington, Cambridge, North Beacon and Market streets, as well as Brighton Avenue. He noted that the study also will consider future build-out to the year 2012.
?We have a challenge ahead of us to demonstrate to you and the city that this store will work,? Dirk said. ?There are ways to implement traffic-calming measures, such as pinching the road down so it?s not comfortable to make turns unless driving very slowly, or installing raised crosswalks for pedestrian crossing where traffic would be limited to 15 miles per hour.?
In response to questions about the 18-wheeler delivery trucks used by Lowe?s, Dirk noted that the North Carolina-based retailer would restrict deliveries to major arteries. ?We don?t want them going through the neighborhoods and we control their deliveries through a contract with suppliers,? he said.
But residents were skeptical. Many reported that officials from the nearby Stop & Shop supermarket made the same promise.
?Once they build it, all the promises are forgotten,? said one woman who invited officials to stand on her porch and watch the traffic any morning of the week.
Another resident said despite Stop & Shop?s claims that it would prevent cars and trucks from coming through the neighborhood, vehicles routinely travel down Braintree Street ? a one-way roadway. ?There?s no guarantee you can give us, because it?s being done daily,? he said. ?Stop & Shop said they will never be on the side streets, but once they get in, they don?t care.?
At least one resident said Lowe?s was not the right fit for that section of the city. ?This is not the kind of business that Brighton needs,? he said. ?We have a Home Depot nearby and plenty of hardware stores. We need more housing, not a big-box retailer.?
Walsh noted that it is impossible to travel on North Beacon or Market streets during the morning or afternoon rush hour. ?I go across town to see my father and I have to take side streets because it?s the only way to get there,? he noted. ?If I drive on Cambridge Street, I?d have to wait 10 minutes to get to Brighton Center. It?s ridiculous. The city of Boston is stagnating Allston/Brighton. They are throwing too many cars, people and businesses here, and they don?t fit.?
Dirk insisted that Lowe?s will examine the options to mitigate the project?s impacts. ?We will look at measures to widen roads and adjust the traffic signal timing,? he said.
Still, he acknowledged that there?s only so much Lowe?s can do. ?Our charge is to not make things worse than what they are today,? he said. ?Our goal is to keep traffic on major roads and not through the neighborhood. We don?t want that.?
Lowe?s will create a program that encourages their Brighton employees to public transportation as a way to limit the number of vehicles off local roads, Dirk said. But he failed to provide specifics and did not return a follow-up call seeking comment.
At the close of the two-hour hearing, one resident asked: ?If the study finds that 4,000 cars can?t work in this location, what happens then??
William Conroy, senior planner at the Boston Transportation Department, said the onus is on Lowe?s to prove to the city that the project will work.
?We will take their information and make sure it?s factual and what they?re telling us is true and go from there,? he said.
In an interview with Banker & Tradesman, Mayor Thomas M. Menino said he too is worried about the traffic impacts, but he is convinced that Lowe?s could make the project work.
?It?s a great site for some type of retail, but we all have to be concerned about the traffic,? he said. ?Those issues will be addressed in the planning process. I think that Lowe?s, a national corporation, has faced these issues before and will try to address them as best they can. We will do the best we can to make the development happen because we have a very valuable piece of property there and it?s been vacant for a few years. It can be an asset with new jobs and new tax revenue. So far, no one else has come forward to fill that space.?
1. I actually agree with the NIMBY's on this.At least one resident said Lowe?s was not the right fit for that section of the city. ?This is not the kind of business that Brighton needs,? he said. ?We have a Home Depot nearby and plenty of hardware stores. We need more housing, not a big-box retailer.?
2. I'm shocked he is calling for more housing, not a park. He must be an apartment dweller looking to buy a house.