Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA considers taking over part of Hamilton Road
BECKET -- Citing safety concerns, the Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA is exploring a townwide vote that would have the town release ownership of a three-quarter mile stretch of Hamilton Road and pass it to the Y.
Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA Executive Director Phil Connor said there have been no recent accidents on the road, but the Y wanted to ensure no children would be at risk playing in the area or crossing the street. Hamilton Road bisects a portion of the Y property.
The YMCA plan concerns the section beginning at the corner of YMCA Road, where its property begins and extends three-quarters of a mile down to the south end of the camp.
Connor said an examination of town bylaws shows ownership of the road could be transferred to the YMCA.
The YMCA is soliciting feedback on the idea at this preliminary stage, Connor said. There is no timeline for making a presentation before the Planning Board, which would be the next step. The Planning Board would then make a recommendation and there would be a townwide vote.
"We would like this to happen, but we certainly don't want to alienate the town or the neighbors," Connor said. "That's not our intention."
The proposal could be an uphill battle for approval.
Select Board Member William Elovirta said representatives from the town's police and fire departments and ambulance service were not supportive.
"They were against any of that road being closed," Elovirta said.
Connor said that public safety services would still have use of the road.
Historical Commission member Rita Furlong said that Hamilton Road is one of the town's original roads, and she said that traffic through the road is primarily used for YMCA purposes.
Town residents also objected because they said the nonprofit, which is a large employer, doesn't pay property taxes and the YMCA's request for better safety could be more easily solved.
"It seems like there are small, tiny ideas available instead of something big [like discontinuation]," said Colleen O'Connor, who suggested the camp create a manned booth or signage alerting traffic going up Hamilton Road that children could be playing there.
Connor said the town is trying to be proactive on security issues.
He said research would continue in the coming months.
"We understand there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle," Connor said.
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