Thursday, August 23, 2007

I want my sidewalks, and I want them now

The shenanigans have begun in Leominster as the developers of the Wal-Mart project on route 117 have decided that they aren't going to build the sidewalks they agreed to as a condition of the development.
LEOMINSTER -- The developer of the retail complex along Route 117 that will feature a Wal-Mart and Lowe's is apparently bypassing a city request to install sidewalks to make the area more pedestrian-friendly.

New England Development, the Newton firm behind the 475,000-square-foot project, doesn't intend to install the sidewalks, the city's planning director told the Planning Board during its Tuesday evening meeting. The reasons were not clear....

The Planning Board had requested the firm build the sidewalks on both sides of Route 117 as a condition to the project's approval. They said the sidewalks are a condition to the firm receiving occupancy permits for the project.
I take this personally. I was the guy at the 2003 public hearing who first brought up the issue of sidewalks to the Willard Road neighborhoods. Every time we drive by the construction site, I comment to Michelle that they should install a commemorative plaque with my name on it.

While the project should never have been built, at least the planning board tried to get New England Development to throw the city a bone. Making the stores easily accessible to the people in the neighborhood suggests that the development has some sort of interest in catering to the community. This move makes it clear that New England development could care less about their neighbors (as though it were really in doubt).

The opponents of the Lancaster Wal-Mart ought to drop their misleading rhetoric and latch onto things like this as they try to fight that project.

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