Decision on Visitors Center Site Selection
Board of Selectmen Meeting

December 23, 1996

Concord Oral History Program

Present: Chairman Arthur Fulman, Bill Jackson, President of the Concord Business Partnership, Sally Schnitzer, Jim Terry, Carrie Flood, Lee Wood.

Chairman Arthur Fulman: The Board has received several communications over the last week. We have heard from the Chamber of Commerce and the Concord Business Partnership stating their views. We have also heard from a number of merchants who by etition asked the board to think very hard whether or not the Milldam site and the Keyes Road site should be considered. If someone would like to present that petition I will entertain that as well. We have heard from Tom Hudner, who is the Commissioner of Veterans Affairs for the state and concerned about the veterans memorial, and many, many other individuals by phone, by stopping us on the street, by letters and other communication. Let me open this up, and if there is anyone else here who is representative of the groups I have mentioned, now is the time to present your views.

Bill Jackson, President of the Concord Business Partnership: In response to several questions last week to a letter from the Concord Business Partnership regarding this issue, we drafted a letter jointly signed by myself as President of the Business Partnership and Marisa Nunley, President of the Chamber of Commerce. I'd like to read this into the record. "Dear Chairman Fulman: In response to questions raised during Monday's hearing, this letter is written to clarify the position of the Concord business community, to the extent it is represented by the undersigned.

We believe that Lot 3, Heywood Street is the best site for the new visitors center. The issues of traffic congestion, parking, and pedestrian safety are less severe there then at the alternative sites, and we think its setting across from Heywood Meadow provides a warm, visible, and accessible greeting to our out of town visitors. Bathrooms would probably be more useful if placed downtown, but would still significantly "relieve" the problem at this location.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, having signed on to the site review process two years ago, we would support the phone booth site as our second choice, with the stated conditions, if the Selectmen decide to go in that direction. However, the written understandings among the various parties are clear that if this site doesn't work out, the Town and all other parties will support the construction of the center at Lot 3, subject to the permitting process.

Sincerely," and signed by myself and Marisa Nunley.

Chairman Fulman: Anyone else. You're all anxious to hear what we're going to say. One last point, I will raise the subject with the Board at the conclusion of our decision as to the role in the future of the Visitors Information Center Committee. I understand some people would like to see the group dissolved, our vote may require some additional work and that will be addressed in our discussion as well.

Sally Schnitzer: I guess I would start off by thanking the committee for their report and their recommendation. They did an excellent job on their assignment. They gave us excellent materials. Not only did they volunteer their time, but they made it easier for all of us. They had a very good process and utilized efforts to get additional information on traffic and plans for the sites, and all that work is much appreciated. I also want to thank all the people who've been in touch with all of us and I appreciate the input. As I was looking back at all the materials we got, the thought is important for us to remember that it was the Concord Business Partnership which started the process, and put Lot 3 Heywood Street under a purchase agreement with the idea that it would provide a location for a visitors center, and without their action and their financial support, it's very probable that a single family home would be located on the Heywood Meadow site today. I think that it is important for us to be proud that we have the Business Partnership as well as the Friends of Heywood Meadow in the town that voted at town meeting last year that we have this lot and can plan and can think about its use in the future.

A second thought on my mind was to remind myself and the Board that although the town would own and operate a visitors center, the Chamber of Commerce would continue to operate the visitors center, and I think it is very important for us to find a site that would be acceptable to the Chamber of Commerce and the businesses and to find a way of operating it and to find a way of dealing with the cost of operating it, and setting up the facility and having bathrooms, heat and other services. At some point I think we all have to put on the table what implications a visitors center will have for the town as well as to the Chamber of Commerce. Because the Chamber will run this center over the long haul, their support on the location of the center is very important to me. I think that is one of the reasons I asked the questions I asked last week. There is no sense in reaching a political compromise on this site that needs the Chamber to guide it, and in a more general sense, the merchants, and yet a tourist destination has to be something that really makes sense.

The letter that Bill Jackson just read reiterates their support of Lot 3 on Heywood Meadow as a continued favored site of the business community, both the Chamber and the Partnership, although as stated in the letter, they are willing to support the phone booth site with certain conditions. Others in the community have either spoken to me or written to me supporting the site for a variety of reasons including concern over congestion, traffic, conflicting uses on the two Milldam sites. Actually I've spoken to a lot of people who thought the Heywood site would work very well as a visitors center, a good location on the access route into town and who believe that we really don't need to change the overall pattern. Conversely, a lot of the correspondence that we received reflects that many people think that Heywood Meadow is critical open space to the center and worthy of protection. I was on the commission when we bought lots 1 and 2 from a vote at town meeting and I can certainly understand that point of view. In addition to the Friends of Heywood Meadow, the Rivers Task Force, the Historical Commission and the Natural Resources Commission have all pointed out issues relating to the impact that sewers might have on the site, heavy use on the meadow, parking, damage to the brook, the ecology and historicalness of the beautiful shade trees. The traffic study that was accomplished although it was oriented to the Keyes Road site made it clear that the traffic safety record on Heywood Street is not good. The new stop signs on Walden Street and other locations might help, but there are certainly traffic safety issues there.

But perhaps even more troubling to me is the new River Protection Act. This act sets performance standards to the River Protection Act. This is called the riverfront area and it will extend 200 feet on each side of any river or stream throughout the Commonwealth. The Executive Office of the Environmental Affairs has issued a guidance document which spells out the two categories for any development within a riverfront area, mainly that there is no practical and substantially equivalent economic alternatives, and secondly that no business will have an impact on the riverfront area. We have no track record available for these new statutes before our Natural Resources Commission or at the state level. Any proposed building on Lot 3 becomes problematic at this point in time. From the bank of the brook to the edge of the existing garage is about 90 feet but from the point of the high water that comes up in the spring and fall, the distance is more like 70 feet putting the garage site well within the riverfront area.

I've spoken to a number of people who are current on the River Protection Act and the emerging guidelines and my position that to move forward on the Heywood site, the town would have to meet two statutory tests. The standards for determining those tests are emerging. The current guidelines for a public project which this would be seems to say that generally "if a practical alternative can be identified which would locate an activity entirely or partially outside the riverfront area, the proposed project cannot be allowed." This test would be very difficult for Heywood Meadow or any number of sites which could be our alternatives. The way that that is currently written I am concerned that the Heywood Meadow site might not be a choice in that it would not meet the second test of not having an impact on the river. These guidelines are preliminary to the regulations which are expected in August 1997, and it is possible that this situation could change and until then I think we could keep the Heywood site as a
remote possibility, but right now it doesn't work out that way.

Which brings me to the two downtown sites. They each present some problems and they each present some potential. In order to support either site I would like to be more convinced that tourists are already coming to the Milldam and what conclusion the committee came to on that issue. The so called phone booth site which I would like to think of as the Monument Square site concerns me from several points, first, traffic and congestion on the Milldam. It is a difficult corner for visibility. There is a two lane section leading up to the intersection of Walden Street causes people to be very aware as they came around that corner. Moreover the cars that are coming around the traffic circle by St. Bernard's Church causes the driver coming around the corner from Lowell Road to go the left when really they should go to the right and it is very difficult at times at that first crosswalk to see people. I don't know quite the implications from the River Protection Act on that parking lot where we talked about adding additional parking spaces. The parking lot is in the floodplain as well as within the 200 foot buffer of the River Protection Act. I'm also concerned about the current position of the merchants and their petition. In order for the business community to support and help with the visitors center we need to address those concerns. I feel there is a possibility however that the design of either this site or the Keyes Road site could be developed if we had the participation of the Milldam merchants in the actual design. Finally on the Monument Square site, I listened carefully to people as well as a letter from Tom Hudner about the importance of keeping Monument Square an open place. I feel it is important that we recognize that the corner of Monument Square is open space different from Heywood Meadow but equally important to us. In the case of the phone booth site, it is not only integral to the Square but the war memorial there is very important and I know that some people have mentioned that there should be another memorial there to more recent servicemen and that is the logical place for it and I would not want to see the plans conflict with that.

As to the Keyes Road site people have contacted me both favorable and unfavorable. They have mentioned traffic, parking congestion and concern about the graveyard, and I know the residents in Milldam Square are concerned about congestion as well.

So where I end up is the River Protection Act seems to be an issue for me with the Heywood Street site at the moment. I see the possibility for consensus around the other two Milldam sites, but I don't think we are to that point of consensus yet. I'd like to see there be an opportunity to work with the merchants in the design on either of these two sites. I'd like to suggest that maybe we put both of those sites on the warrant for Town Meeting particularly with the little time we have between now and late April.

Jim Terry: Over the last weeks or so an awful lot of concern for the downtown sites has been the need for restrooms, and I believe that that's not the main purpose for a visitors center and we are really mixing two things together. Having a site with restrooms and I understand there are concerns about the River Protection Act and we don't have much information so I believe that Lot 3 is the best location. It is located where most of the visitors enter Concord. Approximately 70% from the information booth figures come from Lexington Road, Cambridge Turnpike and Walden Street. During the day there does not appear there is a significant amount of traffic on that area and it certainly varies during commuting time but that is not the time we can indicate that most visitors would be visiting the site. The fact that there is a significant amount of open space across the street in the Heywood Meadow, I think it is an item that would enhance the visitors' appreciation of Concord, and the fact that we have taken a small part of that and made it that people can visit and learn about Concord not in a busy downtown area is a plus.

Concerning the comment made last week about trying to reduce the number of visitors that go to the visitors center by having more information around the town, I think we really need to pursue that. Having a good visitors assistance program should help mitigate the number of visitors that we could possibly have. We should encourage whatever action could be taken towards that.

Some comments have been made about whether a visitors center should be in the commercial center like it is in European cities. I don't believe in the United States we have things that are similar to Europe. Automobiles are not as popular and they are not used to the extent they are in the United States. In most cases visitors are using public transportation and/or walking from one spot to another where in our country people are moving in their cars from one location to another.

Another point that was made is that there are a number of bicycle tours that we see that visit or start in Concord every year, and when the visitors from the bicycle groups know that there is a visitors center they will frequently make it their lunch stops or for more information. I think they would be better accommodated at Lot 3 than they would at either of the two downtown locations.

I think the phone booth site poses the most problems of the three sites. The intersection at the flag pole as Sally described presents the fewest alternatives to visitors if at first view parking does not appear to be available, and I think they won't know where to go. It appears to us that the merchants feel this site impacts them the most negatively, and I believe when visitors leave this site they'll have the most difficulty getting to where they want to go to. The appearance of the phone booth site should be improved, and here we're talking about more expenditures that are over and above already what we can't spend so I'm not sure how that can be accomplished.

Keyes Road has the largest existing parking area. It is very close to the burial ground and if we were to site it there, there would have to be some mediation. My suggestion would be to continue the iron fence on additional sites making it so that it is fairly obvious that it is not a place that visitors should use or walk through. If they do use it to go through to Main Street, hopefully they will use it in the appropriate manner. It wouldn't be a place for picnicking or such as that. We've been told that it would pose a fair amount of inconvenience to the people living in the condominium association. I think that is a little overstated. The improvements to the lot would make traffic move better, and it would not really result in a smaller number of spaces.

I believe if the visitors center is put on Lot 3 that we need to assist citizens who will be going to town and to the stores and shops there and using the facilities and for the merchants who are there, and I would be in favor at 1998 town meeting putting some article forward to work on figuring out what the cost is and the maintenance and the operating costs. I think the handicap access restroom should suffice everybody and would certainly be a lot better than it is now.

So for the reasons stated I am a lot more concerned with a visitors center in the downtown area and feel Lot 3 is the better location.

Arthur Fulman: This is really a tough decision. I think I can say in all honesty that this is the toughest decision that I've been confronted with since being on the Board. When the lot first became available to the Town, which is just a little more than two years ago, it was basically as I understand it through the driver for Mrs. Babcock [Edith Sellors] who had owned the land in the area. He became the owner, and through the Business Partnership and other business folk in town, it was made available to the Town. When it was initially presented to the Board, it seemed this really made a lot of sense. It was taking a parcel and keeping it from development as a house yet it would have probably required someone to spend quite a large amount of money which would inevitably lead to a very large structure on a lot that is not huge. My first contact with this issue two years ago seemed fairly reasonable to try to move this as a site for a visitors center, notwithstanding we had acquired lots 1 and 2 because I suppose in my own mind I separated this from those two lots in that there was already a garage, we would be eliminating the center across the street and it seemed logical at that time. Quickly I learned that these things take on a life of their own and that with a very strong constituency that did not agree with that point of view that led to extensive negotiations and ultimately led to the four-party agreement which we have all been bound by. I think everyone, despite the actions to take under the terms of that agreement, felt in saying that no matter where we stood as to the use of the land, it was fundamental that it was owned by the Town and that it should not be a house or some other use that was contrary to at least some element of control over the property. I'm glad that we at least own this property and that we will ultimately control what happens to it. That doesn't make the ultimate issue any easier nor has it made it any easier for me in the last few weeks

So we engaged in the process of trying to explore other sites and see whether there are other alternatives, whether the claims by many that were an infinite number of sites out there that would be workable, and the bottom line is that there really is not many sites unless you want to compromise whatever goes on that site and that comes down to convenience, it comes down to restrooms, it comes to the welcoming nature of the facility. I believe the committee has done a very good job. I praised them previously so I won't waste time doing that again. They know I'm appreciative of their efforts. They had no easy job but they certainly made an all out effort to come to some consensus, and the two options before us, the telephone booth site and the Keyes Road parking area, were both ideas that were posed very early on when the Board was in discussion with the Friends of Heywood Meadow before our agreement. So they weren't really out of the blue. They may be out of the blue to others but certainly to the people who've been involved in the negotiations, we had talked about those. I must say that initially I had some problems with the phone booth site because that is also open space, and it seemed to me that it was a question as to whose open space was more important. I could make a certain argument for preserving open space in the center of town in the area of the monument.

The parking area of Keyes Road I think got much of my attention. I've had problems with putting a visitors center which was not particularly welcoming in nature at that location. I was very concerned with the concept of trying to put it at that location and thus taking away parking spaces as it appeared at that time. I'm talking about two years ago when these options first came forward. So I for the most part came into this whole process thinking that Lot 3 would be the ultimate choice at least for me. I thought it an obligation to be as open minded as I could in the whole process.

So that brings me to the current time frame and reading the report, listening to the committee report very important information on traffic counts, safety issues, movement issues, what it is that causes the blockages, a good technical analysis as to when the traffic actually occurs and what the issues are and might be and whether we were intuitively reacting appropriately to the problem or whether in fact we have a problem with traffic that would only be exacerbated by tourists.

The problem then follows that we have merchants, who are representative of the entire business community and residential community, voters and nonvoters, that are not happy with these proposals. At least they voiced here an unhappiness with the proposal to be located in the phone booth area. To some extent that may be a response generated by the report having circulated a relatively short period of time and the need for some further understanding of the contents of the report. It may be the expression of merchants as opposed to owners or in fact it may be a very accurate expression of how the merchants in the downtown area feel about this. We heard only recently the detail of that. Mr. Peterson expressed himself last week and had previously written a letter to the Board and we received a petition. But that's all relatively recent in the process.

It's easy to get very involved with the details of an exercise of this type when you are very close to it, but when you are not close to it on the day-to-day basis, you tend to have a much more limited knowledge of the detail obviously and perhaps you're more charitable about things and other people are less charitable.

I think certain things are very important in this discussion. I think it is very important that we pay a lot of attention to the people who work in the booth. They are the people who are there. They know what works, what seems to work, what the people who come here to visit are looking for, and what their needs are. I don't think we should ignore that or pay light attention to it. Last week at least one person spoke to this issue and there have been letters in the paper about it, and I received mail directly on this issue so I think it is very important we consider that. I think also that from the point of view of a member of the Board of Selectmen this audience has to understand that many of you represent very specific constituencies and you're very passionate in your point of view on this issue. We can hear not only from you but from the broader populace in this community. I have to tell you in all honesty that I received
many, many calls and many people stopped me on the street in recent weeks, I've received a lot of contact with people on the subject, and for the most part people have not understood the objection to Lot 3. That's not to say there is a vacancy in their judgment but for the most part people that I'm hearing are saying that this was voted two years ago and why are we fussing about all these new sites. The safety people seem to have a very difficult time understanding the idea of doing something which intuitively to them could adversely affect the traffic patterns, congestion in town, the safety issues and all the issues we have been talking about.

So where does that put me in all of this? I would try very hard to look at the phone booth site and the parking area site to see if they could work -- to see if there is some way to get the people who would be most directly affected by them comfortable with that. I've spoken to people in the Business Partnership and I've spoken to some merchants and I've spoken to people in the Chamber of Commerce and tried to get a really good sense of where they are in all of this and where this thing has progressed. The message is very mixed. I think even in the letters the message is very mixed which has made me ambivalent about those choices. I wanted to like the phone booth site. I don't. I wanted to like Keyes Road. I think that a little more but not quite as much. I like Lot 3 but I understand the river protection issues and I understand the passion that we should all feel about this land that is tied to Heywood Meadow. This makes me very uncomfortable in making a decision that I'm really not happy making because if I vote for the Keyes Road or I vote for the phone booth site, they are really compromises and I don't see the consensus out there that tells me that this is what the community wants. What I hear is that people are very comfortable about both sites or at a minimum they lack an education about whether those sites can work with design, with allocation of monies, with parking, with the ability to expand the Keyes Road parking area somewhat, and things of that sort. This leaves me at a point where I'm not happy with the choices and I believe that I am pretty much in line with Sally that we need more time for the community at large to understand the choices. We need more time to try to work through some of the details, not all the details, but at least some of the details on whether the phone booth site could work or whether Keyes Road could work. Under the four-party agreement the Board of Selectmen are to make the decision. I don't think we're in a position, I don't think I'm in a position to make that decision comfortably. So my recommendation would be to put both sites before Town Meeting in the spring and let all the voters and the merchants who have the opportunity to address the issue decide really whether either of those two sites are valid and acceptable. If both were turned down, then I think I would be more comfortable saying we looked at them, the Town has looked at them, the community has looked at them and we should move forward trying to complete the process on Heywood Street. If one of those sites is selected then so be it. I'd work towards it. I would make the effort to gain greater consensus but I believe if I voted on this right now I could not support either of the downtown sites. So I would like to allow for a greater opportunity from the community at large beyond the constituencies that have been so vocal in this and move in that direction.

Carrie Flood: It's interesting to me how we have all brought up a number of the same points and yet ended up in ever so slightly different places. I'll try not to make as long a speech as some of the others have but there are some important similarities in where I'm coming from and I think there are some important differences in where I want to go on it and where I think it is advisable and prudent to go on it.

I also have been on the Board several years. Lot 3 seemed to me not a fall back position, not a place where we could stuff a visitors center but actually a good place for a visitors center. It has seemed that way to me for years, it seems that way to me now. I think the possible complications with the Rivers Protection Act are distressing but I'm not convinced at this point that they are a show stopper and I don't want to cave in to that until we have at least tested it.

As far as Heywood Meadow is concerned, I want to be careful to not offend people who clearly value that and have worked hard in time, money, effort and so forth for many years in many phases of what they saw as perhaps to that meadow. But to me Lot 3 has been separated from Heywood Meadow for many years. There is a road that runs through it, the borders of Lot 3 are two vacant lots which face Lexington Road and/or Heywood Street, the backyards of several residential properties and across the river an office building. I don't see that as part of the meadow as it stands now. If we do not end up building a visitors center on Lot 3 there remains a problem of how to get rid of, how do you pay for getting rid of the garage that is there, and I think that needs to be put into a financial mix at some point.

As far as the other two sites go, my initial reading that the phone booth site seemed absurdly unworkable to me without major, major investments in traffic, redesign of the entire Monument Square area. I think the impression as you look at it is that that site is very small, partly because of the location of the neighboring building, part of it is because of the location of the plantings, part of it has to do with the monument that is there, part of it has to do with the benches, the rocks, the curvature as you come around the corner. It does not look to me when I drive by like a space that can accommodate even the barest small visitors center that we have all been talking about from the word 'go' on this. As far as the investment that would be necessary to upgrade the traffic flow I don't know whether that is $150,000 or $500,000 but I know that it's not in the capital plan. I know it adds to and will postpone whatever chance we have of having a visitors center constructed.

At Keyes Road, that initially to me was an intriguing idea. I think it has the potential to work. I think it could be made to work without the total redesign of the parking lot that's been proposed, that some minor alternation in signage, striping, traffic flow, realignment of some spaces could make it a workable location but like others have indicated I am sensitive to the immediate proximity to the cemetery. If the visitors center is located there, that would be the first place that every tourist who comes to town, every visitor who uses the services of the center will want to go back and see what's there and even though there would be a fence there, I think the foot traffic and the people stopping to have sandwiches and sodas would be too much.

The criticisms I have heard of the two downtown sites I totally agree. I could not support a proposal that would involve the phone booth site because I do not see us having the wherewithal to make that work over the next several years. On the Keyes Road site I think the objections of those people that live nearby as it seemed from my point of view and maybe I'm looking through my own veil here, but they seem to me to be better reasons for not looking at Keyes Road. It is more expensive there to develop a center I believe. Granted some of the money would be available from the payment made by the Friends of Heywood Meadow but it seems to me that the best advantage, and it came with the phone booth location and perhaps the only advantage over Lot 3, would be the availability of $128,000 that would be coming from the Friends of Heywood Meadow in payment. I don't think that that's the reason we ought to be choosing that site. I think we ought to be choosing the best site based on accessibility, its welcoming atmosphere to the visitors whom we are trying to serve, I think it should be based on the impact or the lack of impact on residents who are trying to use the downtown area to do their errands, to get to the bank, to get through the center to the grocery store. A couple of people have already talked about imagining what would happen if somebody's coming in from the east on Lexington Road trying to watch the signs for the visitors center, getting there and realizing they passed it, now what do they do, then where is that to go that will bring them back to it or when visitors leave the center. I'm concerned
about that.

So all of this brings me to the phone booth I can't personally support. If somebody else wants to put it on the warrant I have no problem with that happening but I cannot support it. The Keyes Road site is marginally workable to me perhaps not as well done on the parking lot as we've seen in the sketch, but to me that is a distant second to Lot 3. To me Lot 3 was and remains a good site for a visitors center that we have proposed here, which is low scale, small, not including buses. In fact, one person who talked to me today asked about buses and I reminded them that the original memorandum of understanding says that buses will be prohibited at that or any site, I guess is what we are talking about. In fact the configuration of the parking lot would be such that they could not physically get into it. That's where I am. I think the choice is between Keyes Road and Lot 3, and Keyes Road in my mind only if Lot 3 can in fact not be built on because of the Rivers Protection Act.

Lee Wood: I don't know if I should begin by saying "Seasons Greetings" or "Bah Humbug!" This certainly is one of those issues that as Arthur said was probably the most difficult he has dealt with since he's been on the Board. I thought today as I was driving out on some of the issues that we have had to deal with as a Board since I have been on it. I think the very first one was a relatively easy issue although it created quite a bit of flare and that was the vote on the Minuteman Statue. That was an easy one. Then I thought we made an easy vote and found out it was one of the more difficult votes that we perhaps made and that had to do with burning some house on Lowell Road. That ended up creating quite a stir. The other votes that have created quite of stir of late have been issues regarding Hanscom Field. I dare say that in terms of phone calls, and I don't want to get my colleagues in trouble for saying this, and
conversations on the street and letters, this particular issue has now become the one that has received the most noise.

About three or four weeks ago an individual called me, someone in this room who is from the Friends of Heywood Meadow, and she said to me "What do you think on this issue?" And I said, "Well, gee, it seems like not much opposition to the phone booth site probably an easy vote." Little did I know that later there would indeed be quite a bit of opposition to the phone booth site. I think over the last several weeks we have heard from a number of people who have created a number of concerns. Other than the Rivers Protection Bill I think that we had in this community the ability to address almost every single concern that has been raised and perhaps some of those that had not yet shown up on the radar screen.

The work of the committee, unlike a lot of other committees, actually has been reported back to us with somewhat greater frequency than most of the other task forces that we have set up, and so we know that the work that they have put into this subject has been intense. I feel that they have thoroughly investigated all the problems and issues and have given us their best judgment on those issues. I'm a little bit concerned about putting the two items for the two sites on the warrant, only because at some point, as the requirement of Town Meeting is, we're going to have to vote anyway. We're going to have
to make a recommendation to the town which means we will either be supporting one or both sites or either sites. I don't know if we can support both sites. It seems to me we may have to deal with that issue at some point before Town Meeting takes a vote.

Having looked at all the issues and studied the material that has come to me on this issue, I am inclined at this point to lean toward the Keyes Road site. That isn't to say that I don't have concerns. I do, but I think it has been said time and time again by those who have come at this issue from one particular point of view and in fact those who have been on the committee, there doesn't seem to be a very good choice. In fact, quite frankly because this hearing was held in the Hearing Room, I think this ought to be a visitors site. It certainly is not a good hearing room. It never has been. But in any case, the ideas that people have put on the table even about not having a particular site but having scattered information and having perhaps restrooms built meeting that need, although intriguing I don't think it's the message that many of us have heard in terms of what the desire is. And yet with the sense within me that somehow that may pick up some more steam, it certainly is something we need to hear from the community as well as to whether or not there is a strong feeling. Somehow we might do that and in fact I might even suggest that if there is a large constituency behind that plot that they would put down on paper some thoughts that we could have a point of discussion at Town Meeting that it has a little more body than has appeared thus far. I think in the present language or in the present presentation that we received on that matter it would be very, very difficult to support, but there be something there that needs to be explored.

Therefore I am leaning towards the Keyes Road site as the best of the three. There is another part of me that says maybe we should just leave things well enough alone, but quite frankly that doesn't deal with the Heywood Meadow issue. It certainly doesn't deal with the issue regarding the individuals that have to work at that site and we should be concerned about them and should make their life easier. So that's where I stand.

The vote taken by the Selectmen was: Sally Schnitzer, to put both downtown sites on the Town Meeting Warrant; Jim Terry, for Lot 3, Heywood Street; Art Fullman, to put both downtown sites on the Town Meeting Warrant; Carrie Flood, for Lot 3, Heywood Street; Lee Wood, Keyes Road. With no majority the Selectmen voted to place both downtown alternative sites on the April 28, 1997 Town Meeting Warrant.


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