Lenox wants your help on Complete Streets initiative

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LENOX — Town Hall leaders are seeking guidance from the public for its Complete Streets policy adopted last year.

At a meeting Tuesday, discussion will center on priorities for state funding next fall to improve the town's roadways and increase pedestrian safety through "crosswalk bump outs" as well as "wayfinding" signage guiding motorists to public parking and major destinations.

Also this week, the town's Community Preservation Committee is asking organizations seeking funding for next year to present their ideas in an informal setting. The public is invited to offer their thoughts on the type of projects worthy of support not just next year but over the next five to 10 years, said Land Use Director/Town Planner Gwen Miller.

A 3 percent surcharge on most residents' property tax bills supports Community Preservation Act projects for affordable housing, historical preservation and open space/recreation. The state matches the local funding, typically 30 percent.

Miller urged residents to weigh in on potential sites for open space acquisitions by the town, the purpose of potential land purchases, and whether those areas should be used for recreation, conservation or both.

The town is also looking for ideas on the possible use of community housing funds and on historic preservation projects, she added.

Recent committee projects have included historic Westinghouse street lights in the downtown business district, renovations at The Mount, open-space enhancements such as the Parsons Marsh trail and boardwalk, and the First Time Homebuyers grant program, which helps families put together down payments for starter homes.

The committee meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m.Monday in the Town Hall auditorium.

The Tuesday public forum on the Complete Streets Priority Plan is hosted by the town and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.

Residents will be asked for suggestions on how roadways can be improved to enhance safety for all users, and for making walking or biking more comfortable, as well as how potential projects can fit in to a neighborhood.

Once the plan is completed, the town can apply for state Department of Transportation funding for targeted projects that reflect the community's response and vision, Miller said.

Ahead of the Tuesday meeting, the town will install temporary crosswalk bump-outs to give pedestrians greater ability to spot oncoming traffic on Main Street. The bump-outs are built with hay bales and traffic cones.

Temporary "Walk Your Town" signs alert visitors to public parking areas as well as travel time to destinations such as Tanglewood, Ventfort Hall, Shakespeare and Company, Church on the Hill, Kennedy Park and downtown restaurants and shops.

So far, Miller has compiled a top five list of potential Complete Streets projects for the town:

- Safety Improvements at the intersection of Main, West and Walker streets at the war monument

- Crosswalk bump-outs (curb extensions) on Main and on Walker streets

- Sidewalk replacement and extension on Cliffwood Street.

- A town-wide "wayfinding" system

- A new sidewalk along East St. connecting to Walker Street.

MassDOT runs the Complete Streets program to encourage towns to compile a priority list of projects designed to improve traffic flow, signage, bike lanes, and compliance with Americans With Disability Act standards.

Reach correspondent Clarence Fanto at cfanto@yahoo.com or 413-637-2551.


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