Below is the text to Dan DeAngelis’ statement to the City Council from Monday night. At the meeting, the Council voted to set the date for the citizen referendum for Saturday February 8th at a single location, Beverly High School.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak this evening. My name is Dan DeAngelis, a 33 year resident of Brimbal Ave and I represent the North Beverly Neighborhood Association. I would like to thank Kathleen Connolly in particular and her staff as well as the Board of Registrars for all their efforts in certifying the required signatures of the Brimbal Ave Petition.
I would like to thank the dozens of concerned citizens and local small business owners who agreed that the rezoning of Brimbal Ave was an issue that deserves the input of all Beverly voters and who worked tirelessly to get the necessary signatures. Finally, I would like to thank the thousands of Beverly residents who supported us and signed the petition to have the measure, Order 128, placed on the ballot.
The land swap and the proposal to rezone the parcel in question fail to resolve many issues. The land swap relieves the developer of the expense of mitigating a former landfill. The cleanup of this site, a former burn dump, and all the potential and unknown consequences, will be paid for by the taxpayer. It is critical that a full environmental impact study be performed before any work begins. At last month’s Conservation Committee meeting, the city’s engineering firm disclosed that some 15,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil will need to be removed at taxpayer expense in order to build the connector road.
The MassWorks grant, if it is awarded, first and foremost benefits this developer and is not in the best interests of Beverly residents. The full cost of road work and traffic controls will be incurred by the taxpayer. The land swap proposed is not necessary to make effective traffic improvements. Many opportunities exist, including the addition of a limited number of traffic lights, which would lessen the impact of the development and be of a more reasonable size and scope relative to the residential neighborhoods and school zones on either side of this development. The lengthening of the Exit 19 off ramp has been cited as a reason for the land swap. But even the city’s traffic engineer indicated that any queuing of vehicles onto route 128 was eliminated once a traffic officer arrived for duty on Brimbal Ave. This practice has been in place for decades. And with the completion of Phase 2, lengthening of the ramp would be unnecessary. Since there is no real need for the extension of the off ramp, the land swap is unnecessary for traffic purposes. Funding should instead be directed to where actual problems do exist such as the lengthy backups onto route 128 from Exit 20N which occur every weekday morning.
Residents are concerned about the roadway changes and the shopping plaza which the land swap will enable. Despite claims to the contrary, the proposed configuration of the connector road requires every vehicle entering the shopping center, 300 vehicles per peak pm hour, to enter from Brimbal Ave or travel around the Brimbal Ave rotary. Imagine what that will look like at 7 pm when the traffic is just beginning to arrive for the NSMT. The backups these proposals will create will clog neighborhood streets, make access more difficult for emergency vehicles and result in the inevitable cut throughs onto side streets by commuters looking for alternative routes. A recent report in the Salem News indicated that, in spite of traffic improvements on Route 128 at Routes 35 and 62, accidents have increased. And those intersections do not include the rotaries proposed for Brimbal Ave.
Even if the city receives the $5 million grant, the funding will do nothing to alleviate the traffic problems that exist at the North Beverly train crossing, for example, and the frequent backup of traffic that results , often all the way back to Dunham Rd. It will not remove NSMT traffic from Brimbal Ave. and it will do nothing to address the increased traffic that will arise with the development of the Cummings property on Dunham Rd. In fact, by facilitating the development of this destination shopping center, traffic will grow even more difficult for the foreseeable future. The backups on Brimbal Ave, coupled with the daily congestion on route 1A truly will turn North Beverly into an island.
In November of 2012, Beverly was awarded $500,000 to design the new interchange, yet even at this date, one year later; the 25% design plans presented to Mass DOT have been rejected. It is time to step back and reconsider this proposal and the long term impact it will have not just on North Beverly, but on the city as a whole. I ask the council to reconsider your vote on Order 128 or allow the measure to be placed on the ballot. And just as the council did in 2008 when a citizen petition was last placed on the ballot in a special election, I ask that voters be allowed to vote at their traditional Ward Polling Stations which are accessible to all Beverly residents, especially given the likelihood of inclement weather. Thank you for your time.