Greenfield city councilors share feedback on Court Square pilot

  • A car drives through the new traffic pattern after Court Square in Greenfield was blocked to traffic. The city is beginning to receive feedback — some positive and some negative — on the pilot reconfiguration. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 7/15/2021 5:15:32 PM

GREENFIELD — The city is beginning to receive feedback — some positive and some negative — on the pilot Court Square reconfiguration that launched last month.

“We’re getting a substantial amount of feedback on that, and the reason we’re doing this is to work out the bugs and see if this is the long-term plan we want to try and implement,” Community and Economic Development Director MJ Adams said at an Economic Development Committee this week.

At-Large Councilor Philip Elmer asked Adams to elaborate on the feedback she’s received, given the negative comments some of his own constituents have expressed to him.

“It’s changed the traffic pattern at the south end of the common,” Adams said. “It eliminates some parking at the north end of the common — those two spots have been eliminated, so we could create a right turning lane.”

She added that the city is continuing to work on dumpster servicing and commercial loading issues, and is aware of the impact the change has had on access to the church and funeral home.

“We’ve been receiving feedback about these pieces and reacting to it,” said Danielle Letourneau, the mayor’s chief of staff. “We have six 30-minute spots behind City Hall for access for business in City Hall.”

She noted that the city plans to improve communication about those parking spaces, and that some of the signs will be changed to bring it to people’s attention.

Precinct 3 Councilor Virgnia “Ginny” DeSorgher asked the city to factor in disability access.

“Seventeen percent of the population is disabled, and 21 percent is 65 and older,” she said. “That number will be 25 percent before we know it.”

Acknowledging the lost parking spaces out front, Precinct 3 Councilor Ashli Stempel-Rae suggested improving disability access in the back parking lot, noting the ramp is currently at the side entrance to the building.

DeSorgher, however, noted that disability access isn’t always about needing a ramp, but proximity to a destination.

“Other than that, I’ve heard great things,” said Stempel-Rae. “I saw many of the constituents who were really upset about this change enjoying themselves on Sunday at the Village Pizza party.”

She said change takes time, noting that the city needs to be creative about solutions to the issues that arise and that “obviously our residents who need accessibility to (City) Hall are taken care of first.”

“I think there’s definitely a way to make their experience even better,” she said.

Elmer also asked Adams about the cost of the project, were it to be implemented permanently, given that the pilot stage is being funded by a grant.

“Part of the Local Rapid Recovery Plan process is to get ourselves in good stead, so that when the federal money that’s supposed to be rolling out comes out, we have projects that can move forward,” Adams said, noting the initial estimated cost was about $1 million. “We’re not expecting this to come off the dime of the Greenfield taxpayers. We would be looking for grant money to implement this.”

She said if the project were to move forward to being implemented permanently, there would be another design process that would take a closer look at handicap access, as well as traffic patterns.

“What we wanted to do this year is change the driving behavior so people aren’t driving through Court Square,” Adams said. “The real question is: can we change the traffic pattern around Town Common so in the future we can use this as a permanent space?”

Letourneau said the city is encouraging residents to submit comments and constructive criticism throughout the process.

“If it’s something obvious that we didn’t see, we can probably quickly act on it,” she said. “If it’s something for a later phase, we definitely will take those in.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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