View All Posts

Aug 19

From the Town Administrator's Desk - August 17, 2017

Posted on August 19, 2017 at 6:21 PM by Melanie Oldeman


The power of citizen engagement received a very strong validation from the recent decision by the MBTA to re-visit the plans for enhancing Wi-Fi services along the rail lines. Thanks to residents speaking up, the T has scrapped the plans to erect 70 foot towers along the tracks. Efforts started in Andover were amplified by Manchester residents. A number of other communities joined in as well, with seven communities, led by Manchester and Andover, jointly hiring special counsel to challenge the procurement process.

In asking their vendor to develop a new plan, the MBTA specifically cited the concerns the public raised regarding the negative impacts some 320 towers in 80 communities would have. Letter-writing, testifying before the MBTA’s Finance Management and Control Board, and researching concerns about the impacts of the poles and the  procurement processes all contributed toward this dramatic outcome. Over 100 letters from Manchester alone were written. Congratulations to all those who took the time to engage; you have proven that many individual voices can make a difference. 

Continued attention to the project is warranted. The MBTA has asked the vendor for a revised plan and we will want to ensure that this plan is properly vetted including a thorough public review process. Simply having the vendor develop a new plan does not correct the process errors we feel were made in the development of the initial plan. A prescribed public process needs to be followed and we will continue to advocate that this happens. (This prescribed process per state law was the focus of the seven-town letter that was sent to the Control Board.)  

In other T news, weekday service has resumed now that the Salem/Beverly swing bridge has been replaced. Weekend service will resume on September 2, a month ahead of schedule, as the work on the Positive Train Control project and other repairs is completed. 

And, thanks to voter approval of Community Preservation funds, the train canopy at our train station has received a fresh coat of paint and some repairs. While there are still additional repairs needed, the work done will help extend the life of the canopy and gives it a much needed facelift. 

In other construction news, the water line work on Pleasant and Lincoln Streets should be done by the end of the month. (Your patience with all the construction activity this summer is much appreciated. Projects got bunched up and overlapped more than we had originally planned.) In addition to the new mains that have been installed, new service lines to a homeowner’s curb stop are being installed. However, the service line from the curb stop (the valve that shuts water off to an individual home) to the house is the responsibility of the property owner. There remain a number of very old private iron service lines that have yet to be replaced with a modern line. The fragility of these old pipes is often revealed when the town work is done. While it is frustrating for a homeowner to suddenly face the need to replace their service line, the Town cannot take on the responsibility of replacing these lines. It is better to have to replace these old lines now in good weather then to face a sudden failure in the middle of the winter!