Friday, November 30, 2001
MAGIC demands funding floor from MPO
At MAGIC's (Minuteman Advisory Group on Interlocal Coordination) November 12 meeting in Maynard, members told MPO (Metropolitan Planning Office) representative Gordon Feltman of Bedford to stand firm and request from MPO a memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding a funding floor for local road and bridge projects. MPO's federal funds could be lost or curtailed if it does not receive a 2/3 endorsement vote from the MPO membership. Thus, the MOU is essentially a risky bargaining chip which makes MAGIC's endorsement of MPO conditional upon a letter of intent or memorandum of understanding assuring a funding floor. Mass Highway Department (MHD) and EOTC (Executive Office of Transportation and Construction) have adamantly rejected either a letter of understanding or a statement of intent about a funding floor. This has created an impasse in negotiations leading to approval of the MPO organization and the consequent flow of federal monies. Feltman, who came to the MAGIC meeting directly from a six-hour negotiation at MPO, said "If the MOU doesn't carry, we go over the cliff that feds have warned about."
MAPC (Metropolitan Area Planning Council) bit the same bullet four years ago when there was a similar stalemate. At that time the responsible parties agreed to endorse MPO (and so ensure continuance of federal funding) when a compromise was reached that established a funding floor. Barbara Lucas of the CTPS (Central Transportation Planning Staff) said about 12 million dollars is involved. Each representative at the November MAGIC meeting spoke in turn about the MOU issue, most of them stating that they had not discussed the matter with their local boards, but giving personal support for Feltman to hold the line on MOU negotiations. Tom Lane of the Carlisle Planning Board commented, "A letter of intent doesn't seem like too much to ask."
MAGIC Carpet enters phase II
Mary McShane, the CTPS member coordinating the MAGIC Carpet study of shuttles as an alternative in regional transportation, said the revised draft of Phase I would be available in about two weeks and that she would accept comments until the end of November. Her comments on the need for shuttles followed those of Joe Mullin, public affairs director and partner at Clock Tower Place in Maynard (the old Digital campus). Mullin led the MAGIC group on a tour of his facility and later talked about the role of shuttles at Clock Tower. He said a shuttle was a condition of the TIF (Tax Incentive Financing) at Clock Tower because there is neither highway access nor public transportation from existing rail lines. Maynard has a grant for market stimulation to extend the shuttle's use.
MAGIC Carpet's phase II is now on the drawing board. McShane proposes three areas for investigation: exploration and feasibility of park-and-ride sites in the MAGIC area, recommendations on ways to relieve the parking problem at the South Acton train station and a feasibility study for using an abandoned rail right-of-way for a Concord-Sudbury bikeway.
Barbara Lucas, speaking as a member of MAPC (Metropolitan Area Planning Council), talked about projects included in the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). One group includes those based on current highway transit; another includes those developed by CTPS to emphasize projects within the dense employment area. A third group contains projects passed on to MPO's Sub-Signatory Committee for approval of their environmental impact. She told the group "What we are interested in is that projects you think are vital are included in that final list so they can be discussed and included in the plan."
Updates and briefings
Bedford has received Community Preservation monies to restore the old town hall.
Two DRIs (Developments of Regional Impact) are currently up for review. A Hanscom draft circulated the week of November 13 and comments were due November 23. Comments on the impact of the CISCO Corporation's development off Route 495 were due on November 27 and MAGIC is planning to submit a supplemental letter on the environmental impact report about the project.
The I-495 Institute for Local Officials is offering a special workshop on community planning and executive order 418 today from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
© 2001 The Carlisle Mosquito