Editorial: Article 52: Easements - Main Street Corridor Project Re-Authorization

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This weekend, downtown residents received certified letters from town manager Norman Khumalo asking us to “consider donating” easements on our property for the Main Street Corridor Project. The letter explained that we should donate the property rights, instead of taking the compensation we are entitled to, because it is cheaper for the town. It seems like there is no option of saying no and refusing to grant the easement. The letter I received this weekend states that over 200 easements are needed for the project.

The letter from Mr. Khumalo failed to include any information at all regarding the intended use of the easement area. I am appalled that the town manager would expect my family to a “donate” a 5-year easement over 1,559 square feet of property with no details of why the town needs the easement or what they plan to do with the easement area. In my opinion, a 5-year easement with open-ended terms of use is not temporary.

Many of you will recall my strong opposition to this project since prior plans were proposed by the now defunct Downtown Initiative Steering Committee several years ago. I continue to oppose the project. After my outspoken opposition a few years ago, I met with the Norman Khumalo, David Daltorio, John Westerling, and Elaine Lazarus at my property to discuss the plan. At that time, I was told by these town employees that the Main Street Corridor Project would not include any changes in front of my property. Imagine my surprise when I opened a certified letter this weekend to see that the plan will impact the entire frontage of my property.

In the wee hours of town meeting last year, Article 47 was passed without any discussion to allow the town to proceed with the land easements. I sat there in disbelief that this could be passed with no notification to the owners impacted by the plan. There were 3 pages of parcels on the list, totaling over 90 properties. Article 52 on the warrant for the upcoming May 2019 town meeting asks residents to reauthorize the town to obtain these easements.

The town manager’s letter stated that the town is “excited” about this project. I cannot speak for all of downtown, but I can say that the Potenzone family is not “excited” about the proposed Main Street Corridor Project. The town officials seem to want to push this project through at the expense of the families and businesses located in the project area.

The “downtown revitalization” is not free money from the state. Its breaking the backs of us hard working people trying to make a living and survive.

To my downtown neighbors who received similar letters this weekend, please contact me. We need to stand together to protect our private property rights. You can reach me at [email protected] or (508) 435-6618.

Please join me at the next town meeting to vote NO on Article 52.

Jacqueline Potenzone
12 Wood Street