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Thread: Town Center Project Abandoned (again)

  1. #1
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    Exclamation Town Center Project Abandoned (again)

    In case anyone missed it in today's Globe, here is an article on the Town Center project: http://www.boston.com/business/artic...to_be_dropped/

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    Question Yes (Again)

    Kim,

    On Jan 18th, 2007 there was an 'explosion' at a co-meeting between the BoS and BoRC which was filmed by (I believe) a representative of the developer and was published as a YouTube... remember this?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8iOiFJJKc4

    Shortly afterwards the BoS pleaded with the developer to come back to the table after they said they were "Outta here".. The threat that came back was a 40B that was going to look like a rather tall white prison.

    This created a firestorm and the log jams that were preventing the project at that time were miraculously freed up. The project went back on line.

    Times are different now, much different than Jan 2007 but this looks and reminds me of what happened in the past. Its possible that this could be a technique to get what is needed to bring the project on line... this is possible.

    Two others things to consider

    -- A friend of mine who works for Raytheon was noting that in a recent meeting (Raytheon) was wondering where they should open another facility to deliver on a new Patriot Missile system... Why not Wayland and why not that property?

    -- More than one person has mentioned that the building there now could be refurbished to be a high school with much more sq footage than what is planned. Perhaps the new high school could be that property and that the town could purchase that property to take it off the hands of an unhappy developer who cannot justify building those residential units or get tenants in this environment. Sounds like a win-win.

    Anybody have any feelings about this?

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    Thumbs up Crier Post by Former Selectman Brian O'Herlihy

    Since I first entered Wayland politics (2004), I have never seen a post by Former Selectman Brian T O'Herlihy. Brian is a highly knowledgeable public servant, he has a detailed understanding of the Wayland processes, its history and was a well respected member of the Wayland BoS during his 6 years on the board.

    Brian was the 'goto' person on the BoS in legal, procedural and financial matters.

    I was stunned to see Brian now posting under the Crier article
    http://www.wickedlocal.com/wayland/h...lt-big-setback

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    I am going to assume that btoherlihy is Brian both because of the name he used and because of the content of his post. I know Brian well and I am confident that this is Brian talking.
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    What Brian did in his post was to give a credible crystallization of the politics and the process's surrounding the evolution of the Town Center Project and he directly addressed issues like:

    -- "Town volunteers [who] are continuing to be vilified by the developers of the proposed Town Center and by a minority of vocal supporters of the proposed Town Center project (including, unfortunately, a number of current and past members of the Board of Selectmen and other Town boards and committees)."

    -- A warning he personally made to developer Dean Stratouly "would likely undergo intense scrutiny due to environmental and traffic considerations and knowing how the Town of Wayland's permitting process worked."

    -- A realization that "he and his partners did not heed [Brian's] advice and the project has taken much longer to permit than it might have taken had they sought to treat all of the volunteers with respect rather than vilify them."

    Such that Brian's post will not disappear or be off-archived, I am memorializing it here directly for all to read....

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    Wayland Town Crier April 26, ~9AM

    btoherlihy

    Since the Town Center project was first presented to the Board of Selectmen in 2005 (while I was still a member), I have remained out of the debate over whether or not it is a good idea. My decision to remain silent about the project had to due with certain 'conflicts of interest' that existed at the time and have existed until October 2008 when I changed employers.

    While I still plan to remain silent on my personal position on the proposed Town Center project, I feel it important to express my opinion on the way in which various Town volunteers are continuing to be vilified by the developers of the proposed Town Center and by a minority of vocal supporters of the proposed Town Center project (including, unfortunately, a number of current and past members of the Board of Selectmen and other Town boards and committees).

    Having helped get the Nike site affordable housing project permitted and built, I can attest to the fact that the process in Wayland (and other communities) is long, difficult and, at times, frustrating. However, it is my view that if you treat those charged with the responsibility for permitting such projects with respect and respond to legitimate questions and concerns, you can achieve your objective ... even if it takes longer than you might like.

    Back in 2003 or 2004, I met with Dean Stratouly, who until recently was connected with the Town Center development team, to discuss various options he was considering for the site. At that time, I told him that the vision he (and others in Town) had for a Town Center project would likely undergo intense scrutiny due to environmental and traffic considerations and knowing how the Town of Wayland's permitting process worked. I told him that he should expect a long process and that the best approach, if he wanted to be successful, was to work collaboratively with all boards and committees in Town.

    Unfortunately, he and his partners did not heed my advice and the project has taken much longer to permit than it might have taken had they sought to treat all of the volunteers with respect rather than vilify them.

    I have great respect for the members of the Conservation Commission and the Historic District Commission and know that they will not bow to pressure by the developers, the Board of Selectmen or the vocal minority in favor of this project. They will do their jobs and protect the Town's interests. Whatever the outcome of their deliberations, I know they will have approached their reviews independently and with the Town's best interest in mind. We owe all of these volunteers our gratitude for volunteering their time to do the Town's business.

    As for the project, it will get built if it was meant to get built. If not, the office buildings will be leased and the Town will begin to receive large commercial tax payments once again ... without having to endure the same potential consequences to its environmental resources, roadways and historic district that will be seen with the proposed Town Center.
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    Interesting. My only comment is to question whether it's a vocal minority that supports the project, or opposes it. I guess that both could be true given the number of people who participate versus not.

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    Default A Vocal Minority on both sides

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Interesting. My only comment is to question whether it's a vocal minority that supports the project, or opposes it.
    It was always my feeling that there was a vocal minority who did not oppose the project but rather wanted a smaller project and one that did not have the traffic, wastewater, historical impact etc... on the town. That vocal minority wanted what Brian was saying, for the developer to have worked more closely and ultimately more slowly with town boards. That was his warning and that didn't happen.

    The 80% who voted for the project on that night at town meeting. Did they vote for a project that had to have and dual access road and its resulting traffic impacts? Did they vote for a project that was going to dramatically widen roads and impact the historical district? Did they vote for a project that was going to shove $2M in wastewater plant upgrades on 26 users? Did they vote for a project which was analyzed by consultant Judi Barrett to be $445,774 / yr (Ref: Judi Barrett Memo092005 to Joe Laydon) net to the town (which is a drop in the bucket against our actual budget)?

    Or rather, did they vote for a 'fits our town funds our future' slogan where they had hopes and dreams that this project would provide override type funding consistently going forward with minimal impact to Waylands traffic, environmental resources etc...

    Because I stood up and voted YES on that night because that was what I was voting for. Remember, we voted on an 'envelope' that night with precious little detail and no precise knowledge of what the actual 'funds our future' was going to be. These details were only known later on... much later on.

    Clearly a majority at town meeting that night... but now in the aftermath has it become a vocal minority who still holds onto 'fits our town and funds our future' dream?

    Perhaps Jeff, you are right... a vocal minority on both sides.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by AlanJReiss; 04-26-2009 at 08:35 PM. Reason: Added document for reference

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post
    It was always my feeling that there was a vocal minority who did not oppose the project but rather wanted a smaller project and one that did not have the traffic, wastewater, historical impact etc... on the town.
    From the start, the developers have played "bait and switch" with this Project's traffic impact. Compare, for example, the Draft Environmental Impact Report submitted on 2006-11-30 with the Final Environmental Impact Report submitted 2008-02-15. Before its approval, the Project was advertised as requiring no significant change to the intersection of routes 20, 126, and 27 at the center of Wayland's Historic District. The reality is that the Project requires a major expansion of pavement and infrastructure to handle the increased load.

    Each time they get caught, the developers throw a tantrum, threaten to quit or build an ugly 40B, and demonize town officials they view as in their way; here we go again. The goal of these tawdry passion plays is to stir up righteous wrath. Long-serving, hard-working, volunteer town officials are trashed and thrown under the bus so the developers can have their way. These actions are tearing the town apart.

    A well-executed Town Center that fits Wayland's infrastructure would be great, and could be accomplished with straightforwardness and honesty. That's not the approach being taken.

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    Lightbulb Throw in the towel already

    The antics going on in town remind me of my kids pre-school. "He hit me!". "She's looking at me!". "She touched me!". "That's MY toy. You can't have it!". "I don't think anyone likes you - you look different than we do." Personally, I have always been in favor of the Town Center concept. Whether or not it increases traffic or costs extra to dispose of waste water never really concerned me much, as the voices warning of these pending disasters never had any data that supported their claims, just a "feeling" or a "sense" that it'd be a problem. Oh sure they all manufactured "data" (sorry Alan, but you are a master of fabricated statistics! Remember your mantra at Teradyne? Torture the data until it confesses...), but the reality is that there are thousands of examples of towns that have commercial infrastructure, and they all seem to be OK. Just take a short ride West on Rte 20 to neighboring Sudbury, and notice the development along the road. Why isn't it a problem for them? Mostly because they acknowledge that Rte 20 is no longer a dirt road with horse and buggy traffic and that its OK (truly OK) to develop along side of it. Welcome to the 21st century. But I digress... I realize that explaining the virtures of this project to the vocal minority (and yes, you know who you are) is as useful as a bandage is to a corpse, so, I'm not going to try. Instead, I will make a suggestion that we heed Alan's earlier post, and convert the buildings that are on site into our new high school, and maybe consider converting the existing high school site into another kind of Town Center. Of course I'm sure that the people living near the exisitng high school will take the same tack as the Glezen NIMBY's, but hey, at least it's a suggestion that gets us off this endless merry-go-round of debate which obviously has no end... At least not a good one. Imagine how much money, time, and debate we'd save if we did this? Instead of spending $70M (yeah, I know, everyone thinks it'll only be $68M, but I'm sure they'll miss by at least 2, don't you?) we could spend maybe $10M instead, be done in months instead of decades, and not interrupt the students lives at all. One day they're at the old school, the next, they're at the new one. No muss, no fuss. I'm guessing that there will be 500 reasons why this is a lousy idea, but I challenge the nay-sayers out there - see if you can find ONE reason why this would work. C'mon. I bet you can.

    Carl

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    Thumbs down Your inflammatory post Carl

    I spoke with the developer about alternative ideas on the town center and he was quite open to re-letting the property for light industrial space to a Raytheon or equivalent... in fact he thought the High School idea was a good one and one that he had already proposed to the town on his own. I believe the obstacle to using the 57 acres for a high school had to do with DEP regulations of usage restrictions. I believe that if those usage restrictions were lifted then this High School idea would be in the main stream idea by now. Have you talked to the developer about this Carl?

    As for income from the project as quoted by Wayland's hired consultant Ms. Barrett, her memo to the Board of Selectmen in 2005 clearly showed a net to the town of $447K which is a drop in the bucket vs our town budget.

    You may not have been in attendance in that critical meeting but she also was asked as to what would be better for the town; a MUOD or a 40B and she said that it was a 'wash'. At that point a number of very strong supporters for the project panicked and Ms. Barrett's opinion no longer seemed to be as welcome as it was in the months leading up to her research and publication. I wonder why?

    Now this being said, I was in support of that project and I put my personal signature on a document which was a gateway to allow it to proceed... so I wasn't just a supporter like you were, I was an enabler like you weren't. But only after many hours of hard work to try to get the best deal for our town in spite of the fact that our Board of Selectmen (at the urging of both the PB and myself) decided NOT to hire a project manager / negotiator who could have done much of the negotiation off camera. A negotiator who had a history of doing deals in Wellesley and got a much better deal for others than we did for ourselves. I could never understand why I was outvoted 4:1 on that point too? I did bring it up no less than 3 times.

    So I guess I was just a 'naysayer' and one of those who didn't fall over my own two feet to blend in with the 'popular' opinion of the day.. how about you Carl?

    As for your comments about my personal and previous employment for 12 years at Teradyne, I remember clearly being involved in $350M in new business in testing PRML Mass Storage Read Channels for ATT Bell Labs over 8 years of hitting the tarmac at Logan to be away from my family. I remember writing test software that was responsible for shipping about 1/2 the hard drives on the planet in the 1990's.

    And your characterization of some comment about me torturing the data??
    I have absolutely no idea what your talking about and since this involves my livelihood and professional reputation as opposed to my political career then this is off limits to you. Take this seriously.

    Finally, I do remember leaving Teradyne on my own terms, at a time of my own choosing and having them beg me to stay. You were a Teradyner, how did that work out for you?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Rosenblatt View Post
    Personally, I have always been in favor of the Town Center concept. Whether or not it increases traffic or costs extra to dispose of waste water never really concerned me much, as the voices warning of these pending disasters never had any data that supported their claims, just a "feeling" or a "sense" that it'd be a problem.
    False. The developer has provided data characterizing the traffic increases that will be generated by the Town Center. The town's independent traffic consultant vetted this data. It is on the basis of this data that the intersection of routes 20, 27, and 127 will be significantly expanded.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Rosenblatt View Post
    Oh sure they all manufactured "data" (sorry Alan, but you are a master of fabricated statistics! Remember your mantra at Teradyne? Torture the data until it confesses...), but the reality is that there are thousands of examples of towns that have commercial infrastructure, and they all seem to be OK. Just take a short ride West on Rte 20 to neighboring Sudbury, and notice the development along the road. Why isn't it a problem for them?
    You are comparing apples and oranges. The proposed Town Center will generate significantly more traffic than the businesses along route 20 in Sudbury. The developer's data shows that the project will generate ~9,500 new trips on weekdays, and ~12,000 new trips on Saturdays. Route 20 in Wayland is already seriously congested during weekday rush hours, to the point where commuters cut though narrow local streets to avoid that congestion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Rosenblatt View Post
    Of course I'm sure that the people living near the exisitng high school will take the same tack as the Glezen NIMBY's, but hey, at least it's a suggestion that gets us off this endless merry-go-round of debate which obviously has no end.
    Your NIMBY accusation exemplifies Wayland's polarized and poisonous atmosphere, and reveals both your lack knowledge and your lack of concern for fellow citizens. We residents of Glezen Lane did not seek to stop the Town Center. We sought a plan to prevent Town Center traffic from avoiding increased 20/27/126 congestion by cutting through local streets like Glezen and Bow Road. These streets are twisty, narrow, and lack sidewalks; children are picked up and discharged from buses throughout the school day. While you may not be concerned with their safety, we are. In the agreed-upon plan, mitigation measures are deployed incrementally, triggered by measured traffic increases over pre-project baselines.

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    Setting aside the current context, "torture the data until it confesses" is a GREAT turn of phrase! [grin]

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    Default I'm not dead yet... I feel fine.

    http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/ne...n-not-dead-yet

    Am I the only one picturing the (not quite) dead guy in the Monty Python movie?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    The developer's data shows that the project will generate ~9,500 new trips on weekdays, and ~12,000 new trips on Saturdays. Route 20 in Wayland is already seriously congested during weekday rush hours, to the point where commuters cut though narrow local streets to avoid that congestion.
    The last time I saw the data, I found that it was not estimating new trips, but rather just trips, and that there clearly would be (and this was acknowledged when I inquired) double-counting with already existing trips that are occurring to Whole Foods and to Shaws/Sudbury Farms. Does anyone know if an estimate was ever made that attempted to net out the cars that would already have been traveling the road for a shopping trip that were merely stopping at a different destination?

    Dave and I already had a back and forth on this topic. I just wondered whether anyone else had anything to add.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    The last time I saw the data, I found that it was not estimating new trips, but rather just trips, and that there clearly would be (and this was acknowledged when I inquired) double-counting with already existing trips that are occurring to Whole Foods and to Shaws/Sudbury Farms. Does anyone know if an estimate was ever made that attempted to net out the cars that would already have been traveling the road for a shopping trip that were merely stopping at a different destination?

    Dave and I already had a back and forth on this topic. I just wondered whether anyone else had anything to add.
    Since our "back and forth", Kim, I had occasion to spend time with the town's and the developer's traffic consultants. As you might imagine, I was interested in the accuracy of the trip generation model used in the Town Center project. The model is produced by the Institute of Transportation Engineers, is used on all such projects, and is well-calibrated.

    Trip generation data produced by the model is shown in table 13 of the developer's Traffic Impact and Access Study (TIAS) of May 2007. To compute net new trips, the retail component of this data is reduced by 25% for pass-by trips. Net new trips are shown in TIAS table 14; the numbers quoted in my earlier post -- ~9500 new trips on weekdays and ~12,000 new trips on Saturdays -- are taken from TIAS table 14. There is no double-counting.

    When the developers were forced to admit that their original "no change to the route 20/27/126 intersection" plan couldn't possibly work, they submitted a revised plan that proposed significant expansion of the intersection and its infrastructure. Given the box they were in, they would have reduced the trip generation if there were even a remotely-plausible justification -- e.g. the double-counting you continue to allege -- but their revised plan included no changes to the trip generation data.

    And as I pointed out in our earlier thread, if the trip generation data were found to be erroneously high, then the tax revenue projection would be equivalently incorrect. For the Town Center's forecast financial benefit to be achieved, its projected traffic increase must also be achieved.

    You can stop torturing the data now...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/ne...n-not-dead-yet

    Am I the only one picturing the (not quite) dead guy in the Monty Python movie?
    Whichever way it turns out, even the most ardent "Town Center At Any Cost" partisan would have to admit that the developer's credibility is at this point completely gone.

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