It was a very unsettling discussion whereby residents discussed their concerns with the proposed development, yet received no feedback from the Board.
When asked about the traffic congestion, the Planning Board director was dismissive of residents concerns over the increased traffic on the road as the usual resident complaint. Yet, that dismissive response failed to take into consideration the construction of two large yet unoccupied complexes that feed into the already stressed narrow and winding roadway. The property in question is flanked by on one end of the roadway, and a hotel-sized multi-use structure at the other end, which terminates with no outlet at Middlesex Turnpike in Billerica. Yet, residents concerns were given no moment.
When it was brought forth that this 1905 vintage Old Billerica Rd property boasting 14+ acre property with over 6,000 sq. ft. historic mansion could be purchased by the Town to be used for Town benefit – for locating the History Museum and a combined Town Welcome Center – that idea went totally unheeded. Surprisingly, just moments earlier the Board was embroiled in discussing options to relocate either Bedford TV and/or place the Bedford History Museum with no viable solution to meet both their needs and requirements.
It also appears by lack of discussion, that ‘no’ Board member was interested in entertaining a discussion on placement of a History Museum and a Welcome Center, which would bring interest and revenue to the town and its businesses.
Locating a Welcome and Historical Center on a large acreage Historic
Property on a Historic Road is a no brainer. Tours, education and use of agricultural lands for growing food crops by locals and teaching gardening among others, selling ice-cream to visitors and pony rides in the horse paddocks could instill interest in the town and bring revenue- but all was ignored. None of these would strain the morning or evening commute, which exacerbates roadway ingress and egress.
It is perplexing that even though the deficiencies for relocating either the Museum or the TV Station was discussed just moments prior to the public discussion on the proposed the land and structure at 251A Old Billerica Road – no Board member was interested in furthering that discussion. This is especially perplexing, since no suitable location was available to house the entire footprint needed by the Historical Society or adequately house the TV station if it were relocated.
In all, it was a rushed meeting bent on giving up the Town’s Right of First Refusal away to benefit a developer on a project that is at best Ambiguous. To onlookers, the discussion appeared to be a predetermined course of events, and that this Zoom public meeting was nothing but a mere formality without substantive discussion.
None of the Board’s discussions took into consideration the real issues such as the mitigation of an already stressed roadway flanked by two new and large developments at either end – both of which are not yet uninhabited.
When it was asked that the waiver of the Town’s Right of First Refusal be brought to a vote by the townspeople – that got no traction, yet the time schedule for the developer to proceed to close on the property this coming Friday, May 28, took center stage.
To myself and other participants, representative government means having those that represent you accessible for discussion and debate. Having tried to no end to repeatedly make contact with Select Board members via phone, via email, and through the town email portal to provide input for discussion all proved useless. This is not the way representative government works – ‘true’ representative government is responsive to the voters. This is not what I experienced, and I urge others who experienced the same to vote accordingly. Bedford is literally built in the cradle of Democracy – and as its residents, we are tasked to ensure that Democracy prevails. Remember that next time you vote.