Night two of Town Meeting: Milton’s thickly settled neighborhoods to see speed reduction

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Articles 15-25 passed on second night of town meeting

Night two of Milton’s Town Meeting opened with an immediate discussion of Article 15: To see if the Town will vote to… allow the Board of Selectmen to establish a speed limit of 25 miles per hour on any roadway inside a thickly settled or business district in the Town on any way that is not a State highway.

The article was submitted by the Board of Selectmen, working with the East Milton Neighborhood Association’s Traffic Committee, headed by Town Meeting Member Peter Dunn, of Precinct seven. Milton Police Chief John King, though concerned about Milton’s Police Department being staffed enough to support the lower speed limit, said that he supported the article.

Precinct three Town Meeting Member Virginia King expressed her concern with the article, worrying that it would bring Milton’s traffic to a halt. King shared a trip down memory lane with Town Meeting, stating that when she was a child, she was instructed to stay on the sidewalk instead of the road in order to remain safe, and that kids today should follow this same protocol in order to avoid the risk of harm from Milton’s crippling cut-through traffic and speeding problems.

Board of Selectmen Chair Katie Conlon emphasized that the City of Boston has already changed the speed limit to 25mph and that Quincy and other areas are also currently considering the speed limit decrease. “The best solution would be for all communities to adopt this article,” she said. Conlon sees this as “a chance to alleviate some cut-through traffic by eliminating some options.”

Milton’s Bicycle Advisory Committee Chair Lee Toma stated the committee’s full support of the article, adding that “a five mph reduction doesn’t seem like much, but has a huge reduction on the impact of a crash.”

Precinct six Town Meeting Member Bill White said, “I am more concerned about neighbor rage than road rage. Kids are out and about and playing [around and near Milton’s streets] and that’s what they should be doing. [Lowering the speed] is a safety issue and it’s about our children and our neighborhoods. Town Meeting Member Scott Matthews (precinct four) pointed out that many of Milton’s streets also lack proper street markings and lines that assist in driving.

East Milton Neighborhood Association Traffic Committee Chair Peter Dunn (TMM, P7) offered some statistics: “If you have to travel one mile you can expect to add 24 seconds to your trip time. If you have to go a distance of five miles, you add two minutes to your commute by reducing from 30 to 25 mph.”

DPW Director Joe Lynch said the cost of sign compliance was a minimal $3,000 – $4,000, while Precinct six Town Meeting Member Jeanne Burns pointed out that in order to enforce the speed limit, she sees Article 15 as linked to adopting an override, as Milton will need a sufficient police presence.

After an hour of discussion, along with a proposed friendly amendment by Virginia King (P3), which failed to get a second motion, Article 15 passed handily.

Article 16 passed with minimal discussion, save a friendly amendment by Precinct two Town Meeting Member Michael Chinman, which standardized the language to be consistent with current Milton bylaws. Rick Neeley (P3), Chairman of the Town Government Study Committee proposed an amendment to Article 17, which would increase the non-contingent budget for veterans benefits by $10,000 and eliminate the contingent budget. He proposed that the money come from the reserve fund (Article 42). The amendment passed unanimously and Article 17 also passed.

Karen Friedman-Hanna (TMM, P2) asked what everyone was thinking when discussion of Article 18 began: “Does Town Meeting ever put forth whether or not there will be an override?” BOS Chairman Conlon responded that if Town Meeting approves all budget-related articles, the Board of Selectmen will schedule an override vote, probably in June, and before June 30.

Articles 18 and 19 passed with minimal discussion. Article 20, which proposes changes to the Traffic Commission, including increasing the number of residents to two and changing the director of commission from Police Chief to Director of Public Works. Chief John King supported the directorship change heartily. Precinct two Town Meeting Member Peter Mullin suggested an amendment that would remove three of the proposed members, stating that because they were subordinate to other members, they’d be unlikely to express opinions different from those of their directors. TMM Sheila Egan Varela (P8) countered, “all of those knowledgeable people need to be at the table.” The amendment failed to progress. Arthur Doyle of Precinct seven recommended increasing the number of residents on the Traffic Commission from two to three. The BOS and Warrant Committee both supported the friendly amendment and Article 20 passed.

Discussion of Article 21 began with a question by TMM Jeff Stone (P1), who asked if the Department of Public Works had any plans to use a system to log and track DPW-related issues, listing several other towns and cities that had successfully employed such a system. DPW Director Joe Lynch responded that the town is currently in a beta testing stage for such a system. Article 21 passed, followed in quick succession by Articles 22 and 23. BOS Chairman Katie Conlon successfully moved to postpone discussion of Article 24 to Monday, May 8.

Article 25 passed with minimal discussion, and Town Meeting was adjourned until Thursday, May 4.

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