WINCHESTER - Decorative or standard was the question the Select Board answered in regards to a new mast arm for a traffic signal at the intersection of Johnson Road and Ridge Street designed to replace the temporary one already there. In a 3-2 vote, the board chose the standard mast arm.

Had the board picked the decorative mast arm, as Select Board Chair Michael Bettencourt and member Jacqueline Welch suggested, it would have cost the town more than $85,000, an amount taken from the town’s Ch. 90 fund. Instead, the board opted for the free, standard mast arm.

Bettencourt and Welch argued that other mast arms in town are decorative so the board should remain consistent. Those include ones by the high school, on Washington Street and in the area of Church, Bacon and Fletcher streets.

“The area should get a decorative mast arm to fit in with the rest of the town,” Welch opined.

Bettencourt agreed, adding he was originally against the decorative mast arm, but after seeing them compared to the standard ones, and knowing standard arms require more maintenance, he argued in favor of paying the additional cost. He called that potential savings a benefit to choosing the decorative arms.

Unfortunately, when asked, Town Engineer Beth Rudolph didn’t quite know how much the town would pay when it comes to repainting the standard arms once they began to fade (not to mention how often those arms require a fresh coat of paint).

Regardless, the other board members all said it felt wrong to spend that kind of money, especially now.

“Given the financial times and other projects,” Select Board member Amy Shapiro noted, “it’s not the time to put that much money into decorative mast arms.”

She argued residents wouldn’t notice the difference anyway, plus she suggested people are used to the temporary traffic signal already there.

When Select Board member Susan Verdicchio inquired about how else the town could use its Ch. 90 money, Rudolph joked there are hundreds of other projects including a wall on Pond Street that needs to be replaced.

Select Board member Mariano Goluboff also said he couldn’t see spending money on a decorative mast arm, even though Bettencourt called it an “appreciable atheistic improvement.”

Goluboff argued the town could better use its Ch. 90 money for sidewalk repairs/replacement. For this specific project at the intersection of Johnson Road and Ridge Street, Rudolph said MassDOT would also install new sidewalks up to Vincent Circle.

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