NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

September 12, 2013

Selectmen agree to changes in Whetstone St. plan

WEST NEWBURY — A proposed plan to alter the junction of Whetstone and Main streets was revised Monday night at the request of the Public Works department.

Following a preliminary review in August of plans to upgrade the area that called for removing an existing utility pole occupying the middle of the intersection and slightly narrowing the entrance to Whetstone Street to bring it more into a 90-degree angle, this week selectmen heeded advice from DPW director Gary Bill, who argued in favor of removing the pole but maintaining the road’s current, wider configuration.

Bill noted that a wider entrance was preferable because the intersection is frequently used as a “turn-around area in the center of town” by DPW trucks and other vehicles.

Selectman Glenn Kemper countered that, given the poor traffic visibility in the area, he preferred finding ways to curtail — not encourage — the type of use Bill was describing.

Chairman Bert Knowles Jr. proposed leaving the pole in place and creating an island around it similar to ones on Maple, Church and Garden streets.

But in the end, the board listened to Bill’s advice. Representatives from developers Cottage Advisors and Land Tech Consultants said the next step is to run the plan past Verizon, the company that owns the utility pole. It’s possible there may be an issue with removing a pole that spans such a wide space, they warned selectmen on Monday.

“It is what it is,” responded Kemper.

The development team is overseeing the upgrade as part of a more comprehensive project to create 30 residential units on 24 acres off Whetstone Street formerly known as the Sullivan Farm.

As part of the proposed road update, the pavement width — which currently runs between 16 and 18 feet — would be broadened to 22 feet with a small bituminous lip on either side. A vertical curve on the street would be pushed out farther down the hillside; three large shade trees toward the beginning of the street would be retained; and a new 8-inch waterline would be installed.

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