WINCHESTER - The Winchester Select Board approved a conceptual design from Toole Design Group for road work at 735 Main St., which sits at the intersection of Main Street and Skillings Road past the high school.
The work is being done at the request of the owner of 735 Main St., as he is attempting to building a 2,000 sq. ft. building with ground floor retail and eight apartments on two floors above. Attorney Joseph Tarby said his client is going before the Zoning Board of Appeals with plans for the building.
The plan, according to Project Engineer Heather Georgallas, will create a parking lot on the corner of Skillings Road and Main Street with two-way access. Town Engineer Beth Rudolph said the design closes off the Skillings Road end of small triangle in front of 735 Main St. that motorists tend to use as a cut-through to avoid traffic in the area. (To access the parking area once work is complete, motorists can enter and exit off Main Street. according to the diagram.)
This new design will lead to the loss of some on-street parking spaces. However, closing off one entrance of the triangle will make it safer, Georgallas said.
The design also shows two entrance points into the parking lot, but one exit. The two entrance points are separated by several feet of sidewalk. The median out front on Skillings Road has also been shortened in the conceptual plans “to better accommodate turn to driveway.”
The plan also shows shrubbery inside the triangle where parking spaces are currently because those spaces wouldn’t be feasible under the new plan. The owner of 735 Main St. said he would maintain that shrubbery as an adopted island.
The board had several questions about the design, especially as it related to safety for pedestrians and bicyclists (the Tri-Community Greenway runs through this area). Chairman Mariano Goluboff felt there were “too many points of conflict” between bikes and cars, specifically pointing to the two entrance points into the parking lot.
He asked that Toole remove the entrance further up Skillings Road closest to the high school, but Traffic and Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Whitehead supported the concept. He especially favored closing one end of the triangle to prevent its use as a cut-through.
Although the board had issues, they approved the design knowing that, as Rudolph stated, more detailed plans will be forthcoming. Also, as Goluboff acknowledged, the plans are a “massive” improvement over what’s there now.
While the owner will go before the ZBA for the building plans, Goluboff reminded his board it’s their duty to approve the street design.
“We’ll review finals plans before a street opening permit is pulled,” he noted.