On December 6, Town Planner Erin Wortman presented the Selectmen with the final report of the Complete Streets strategy for Stoneham. Encompassing a significant portion of Main Street, with Stoneham Square at its center, the report lays out the plan to construct balanced streets that safely accommodate all users of all ages and abilities, including people who walk, bike, take transit, drive and operate freight-sized vehicles.
Wortman is extremely pleased with the plan’s comprehensive design and fit for Stoneham. At no charge to the Town, she obtained a grant to fund the study spearheaded by expert transportation consulting firm Nelson Nygaard. This “Massachusetts Downtown Initiative” grant from the Dept. of Housing and Community Development, was one of only 13 available in the entire state to receive funding.
Through its development, Stoneham’s Planning Board and Town staff provided oversight and review of the strategy, final report and final presentation. Additionally, town businesses, residents, visitors and employees provided insight and input into this study through a series of stakeholder meetings. Wortman believes that this design could be as “transformative as the design and construction of Stoneham’s Town Common in 2000.”
“This comes at an outstanding time for the town”, says Wortman. “In the last several years, Stoneham has made significant progress in support of greater mixed-use development and multi-modal improvements in the downtown. The 2014 Town Center Strategic Action Plan has spawned numerous initiatives to revitalize the Town Center, enhance public transportation and attract residents, businesses and visitors. Now, this Complete Streets study adds the benefits; increased safety for everyone, increased walkability, more efficient traffic movement, a more attractive downtown, more green space, more gathering space, and opportunities for public art. Businesses stand to gain, as well, with opportunities to expand in different ways through wider sidewalks which could accommodate outdoor seating and dining, portable signage and more.”
The next step? With Board of Selectmen approval, a 25% design would need to be funded and completed. Wortman would pursue available grant monies for this and subsequent project stages. She is particularly encouraged by the shift in federal and state monies away from large regional to more local community-specific projects. She also notes that the Town of Stoneham owns the Massachusetts Route 28 portion of Main Street under study, providing the Town with considerable project flexibility.
Wortman would love to hear feedback about the report which is on the Town of Stoneham website, under “News and Events”, at this link: http://www.stoneham-ma.gov/home/news/stoneham-town-center-complete-streets-strategy-final-report . Erin Wortman can be reached by phone at (781) 507-2445, or by email at EWortman@stoneham-ma.gov.