by Charles Kelleher Harris
OXFORD- The Board of Selectmen chose to listen to citizens complaints instead of the professional opinions of the Police Chief and the Department of Public Works Director Tuesday night, January. 29.
Originally William and Erica Byrne, of 39 Walnut Street, contacted the Board of Selectmen to request that a stop sign be placed at the intersection of Walnut and Cypress Streets.
“Our concern is speed on this road,” said William Byrne, “We would not like an accident on this road.”
Byrne presented the board with a petition signed by every resident of Walnut Street encouraging the stop sign placement.
Byrne added, “I think asking for a four-way stop is not asking too much.”
Town Manager Joseph Zeneski then read two reports, one from Police Chief Michael Hassett and another from DPW director Sean Divoll.
Hassett reported that over a period of ten days speed was monitored on Walnut Street using both marked and unmarked cruisers.
“The information received is that the approximate average speed was 30-miles per hour or below. There does not appear to be any visibility issues within this area,” Hassett wrote.
Hassett added that since January 2008 there had only been one accident at Cypress and Walnut Streets.
Byrne argued that the cruisers used for the radar testing were not “concealed very well.”
Gary P. Swenson of 42 Walnut Street came forward and told the board that, clearly, if drivers could see the cruisers, they wouldn’t speed.
A retired veteran, Swenson said he spent a lot of time watching the street and that he could “guarantee drivers do better than 30 miles per hour.”
“I would say they are coming by my house at 40 or 50 miles an hour,” Swenson said.
Zeneski also read a report from DPW Director Divoll. Divoll explained in his report that the area mentioned did not meet the qualifications for a stop sign.
Divoll said that according to the national guidelines for multi-way stop applications the Walnut and Cypress Streets intersection failed to meet crash threshold, traffic count, speed threshold and pedestrian volume.
“In conclusion…I do not recommend any change to the Walnut and Cypress intersection,” Divoll said.
Selectmen Michael Voas commented that he had talked to several past and current residents of the area and that they all agreed there needed to be stop signs placed.
“I do support your efforts,” Voas told Byrne.
“I will tell you that this board has deferred to local citizens and has not always gone by the DPW specs,” said Selectman Jennie L. Caissie.
After brief consideration a motion was made and passed unanimously to place the stop sign.