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

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Residents of the downtown area who would be impacted by the Main Street Corridor Project recently received certified letters from the town manager, Norman Khumalo, asking them to donate easements on their property in order to facilitate construction on the proposed downtown project. The town has asked for easements on more than 15% of our property.

While the donation request letters included copies of plans showing the proposed easement areas, there was no mention of any specific proposed uses of the easements. Will property owned by downtown residents be used to store construction equipment, as a place for project workers to park their vehicles, or for some other yet to be determined purpose? It is troubling that the town manager has asked residents to donate private property rights without offering any specifics whatsoever.

In an attempt to persuade owners to give away their property rights without fair compensation, the letter noted, “The lower the overall Project cost the less money the Town has to use from the Article approved at the May 2019 Annual Town Meeting.” To the best of our knowledge, the May 2019 town meeting has not yet occurred. The communication from the town manager is sloppy at best. At worst, it is a deliberate attempt to be misleading. Neither is acceptable.

Over 90 parcels of land are impacted by Town Meeting Warrant Article 52 and over 200 easements are required for this plan.

Please vote no on Article 52. The article asks that the town reauthorize the Selectmen to acquire easements over all or some of these 90+ parcels, “by gift, purchase, eminent domain or otherwise.” Although the Selectmen and Town Manager may argue that a similar article was passed at town meeting last year, the reason that this article is up for vote again is that the 2018 article was passed by a simple majority when a 2/3 vote was needed under M.G.L. Chapter 40, Section 14.

The fact that town officials have spent nearly a decade working on this ill-conceived project is not reason enough to continue efforts to bring this project to reality.

Please attend Annual Town Meeting on May 6, 2019.


Ward Family
67 Main Street