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Letter: A Response to the Fire Chief's Letter

Resident Bret Leifer provided the letter below.

I recently read a letter to the editor, in which  Wayland Fire Chief Vinnie Smith has now decided that he can live with a double driveway egress from the Finnerty site to Main Street.

Before the Planning Board meeting on Sept. 4, the chief said he was against a curb cut that would create a driveway on Main Street. A few weeks later, Chief Smith said he could live with a curb cut on Main Street. Now he can live with a large double-driveway on Main Street across from the Cochituate fire station. I may be naïve; I may be stupid -- but I don’t get it. I thought the fire chief was supposed to be in charge of safety? Now he is advocating two massive driveways that would be approximately 20-30 feet across on Main Street. 

When middle school and elementary school children walk to school; when seniors who live in the Bent and Cochituate housing walk around the village to get their errands done; when the many joggers and walkers use Main Street as part of their daily exercise loop; when throngs of children use Main Street to get to the ball field, or ride their bicycles, skateboards, and scooters on Main Street; they will NOW have to traverse this dangerous gauntlet. All of these residents will have to survive the impatient drivers, the distracted drivers talking on their phones and possibly texting and even those cars stuck on the middle of the sidewalk waiting to make their supposedly safe right turn. In addition, large trucks that make deliveries will make very wide turns. There are enough casualties on our roads without this enormous new threat -- 2,000-5,000 pound cars and trucks passing over our Main Street sidewalk is an unacceptable danger!  

Chief Smith is deferring to the experts. Apparently, he doesn’t want the responsibility of making the decision. Who are these experts? Who pays these experts? Will these experts invent statistics? Children will get killed and we will have periodic catastrophes at the site. It’s all a numbers game. More cars driving across a busy sidewalk will result in more human tragedy. One "bought and paid for" expert will say this large double driveway is as safe as sitting in church.

The business plan for these large box drugstores with drive-throughs is to get as many cars to use the drive-through as possible. This is where they get most of their revenue. They do not care how or where the cars come from, even if the cars drive over our busy sidewalks. Children will not reach their destination.

The CVS with its drive-through on Route 20 does not have a busy sidewalk -- in fact, there is no sidewalk. Every resident of Wayland should take a good look at both of those Route 20 CVS driveways. In the village, it appears that the two driveways will be combined rather than separated. This is what Chief Smith wants for the center of Cochituate Village. I just don’t understand why the fire chief is endorsing this.

Pedestrians used "to have the right of way" in Wayland. Now, with Chief Smith’s latest position, pedestrians, “Better get out of the way!” Personally, I do not think that greed should ever come before safety. I hope I am not in the minority with this thinking.

Bret Leifer
East Plain Street

JRZ November 02, 2012 at 03:45 PM
"Live with" is not the same as "advocating". The roadways and land are not for the exclusive use of pedestrians; one can have a driveway as well as a safe sidewalk.
Jeff Baron November 02, 2012 at 05:35 PM
If you're so concerned about safety, why do you live in such a "high-traffic" area? There are, after all, plenty of streets in Wayland that don't have anywhere near the type of traffic volume that your street currently has. Additional "traffic" in this already VERY busy commercial area will not do anything more to worsen that problem in an appreciable way. Also, as a careful driver myself, I take offense at the suggestion that my priority will be to endanger pedestrians. Driving in and around metro Boston everyday, I would tell you the majority of pedestrians could care less about drivers and frequently jaywalk without concern.
Michele C November 04, 2012 at 12:19 AM
As a runner and cyclist that frequents the area and lives in Wayland, I guarantee this will be dangerous to non vehicular traffic. We can't even get cars to stop at marked cross walks for pedestrians. Drivers are distracted and impatient. They speed through all areas of town, and frequently through school zones. I do think there will be a fatality sooner rather than later.

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