Walpole Planning Board Workshop Minutes
August 25, 2020
Present: Board Members: Chair Jeff Miller, Vice-Chair Dennis Marcom, Jeff Harrington, Joey Andros, Jeff Colley, Select Board representative Steve Dalessio. Board member Jason Perron came in during the middle of the meeting.
Minutes: These minutes are unapproved and will be reviewed at the regular September meeting for omission, addition or corrections.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the draft of the Implementation Plan and Transportation Section of the Walpole Master Plan prepared by Lisa Murphy, Senior Planner at Southwest Regional Planning Commission. The Board has been updating the Plan this year, having completed the Population and Housing Section in late winter. In an email, Ms. Murphy said the documents had not been edited by the administrative staff yet and they would do so after all content edits have been completed. So, Lisa warned, there may be formatting or spelling or punctuation errors.
Mr. Miller opened the meeting at 7 pm. Ms. Murphy was on speaker phone and the Board and she communicated that way. Everyone had time to look at the document and Mr. Miller asked if there were any questions or discussion about what they read.
Mr. Marcom said he compared the draft to the 1998 copy and he found two items that seemed to be missing from this document that he would like included in the revised draft of the Transportation section. One items was the information of the Connecticut River Scenic Byway Improvements on page 18. Also he wanted to know more about the grant that was referenced in that section.
On pages 15 and 16 in the 1998 edition of the Master Plan, there is a section on Rails-to-Trails that Mr. Marcom would like included in the revision of the Transportation section.
Ms. Murphy said these are in the Recreation section, but it was the consensus of the Board that they should be mentioned in both places. She then agreed it might be good to have the policy in both sections the master Plan. There are always more grants tied to transportation, Ms. Murphy said.
Mr. Harrington mentioned a project on which the Board worked while adopting the Complete Streets policy. Complete Streets was a yearlong project that the Planning Board worked on in 2017.
The Planning Board made recommendations to the Select Board for implementation in the future. The meetings were with input from representatives of Southwest Regional Planning Commission and Walpole Police Mike Paquette. The overall policy of Complete Streets is “to have streets that are designed and operated to enable safe access and mobility of all users, in that bicyclists, motorists, public transportation users, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities are able to safely move along and across streets.”
One of those recommendations was to connect the Walpole Primary and Elementary Schools to Mill Pond and eventually to the homes around Maplewood Circle where several school children lived. Mr. Harrington wanted it mentioned in the Master Plan.
The actual recommendation to the Select Board in September 2017 actually said: “Main St. connection from school to Mill Pond: Consider widening and improving the surface condition of the shoulders along this stretch of road where space allows. In addition, consider placing signage that says “Pedestrian Crossing Ahead” to alert motorists to likely pedestrian crossing location. While this may be a large expense, consider in the future making a sidewalk from the school up to where the neighborhoods are.”
The decision by the Board was to add this to the Implementation Plan. Mr. Miller suggested adding it to Objective 2 making it Action 4. It would say something like “seek opportunities for or create a walkway for pedestrians and cyclists to go from the Village to the Mill Pond, the fire station, Hubbard Field and North Meadow Plaza.
Mr. Miller said he spoke with Road Agent Mike Rau about this project when the Board was discussing Complete Streets and Mr. Rau said this project would be very expensive. Mr. Dalessio added that there could also be difficulties in acquiring the land.
Some comments on accomplishing this goal would be that it could be done in stages; maybe the town could get right-of-ways or easements; or maybe there is another way to get there besides a straight line down Main Street.
Ms. Murphy said that there is grant money out there to build walkways to schools.
Ms. Andros asked about a crosswalk from North Meadow Plaza to Walgreens.
Mr. Dalessio said NH Department of Transportation has said they would not put in a light at that location. The only way to get there from the Plaza would be to over Route 12.
Mr. Dalessio said that currently one problem is with off-road vehicles tearing up Class VI roads. Class VI roads have to be maintained by the owners on the road, so it’s an issue right now.
Mr. Dalessio said he wanted an asterisk on the list of bridges in Walpole that is on page 10. It should say “Please consult with the Select Board office for a current list.”
Ms. Murphy wanted to know if the Board is now satisfied with draft on the Transportation section after tonight’s suggestion have been added. Mr. Miller and Mr. Dalessio said yes. Then she spoke about the contract sent to Mr. Miller to complete the other sections of the Master Plan in the upcoming year. Mr. Miller said the money would not be available until after Town Meeting 2021. The total cost for the year’s work us $10,730. Ms. Murphy said that was work for her and the Southwest Regional Planning Commission.
A copy of the Transportation draft of the Master Plan, without the above additions, is at the Select Board office.