Brendan Fitzpatrick

January 31, 2024

City Council Receives Update on Saxonville DPW Project

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FRAMINGHAM - The Framingham City Council received an update on an ongoing Department of Public Works (DPW) project within Saxonville during their meeting on Tuesday, January 30.

The Saxonville Intersection Improvement Project, which had its design process begin back in 2016, targets Central Street between Water Street and Concord Street, as well as Concord Street from Stones Court to the Sudbury River bridge. Sewer work and improvements to intersections are the major focal points of the plan.

The DPW’s Chief Engineer Bill Sedewitz told the council that renovations to public parking, sidewalks, landscaping, and street lighting are all included in the scope of work. Officials are aiming to improve all modes of transportation by easing the flow of traffic, expanding accessibility, and maintaining what Sedewitz called in a recently-penned memo to the Finance Subcommittee a “village” atmosphere within the area.

Sedewitz explained that the department is trying to prioritize sewer work with the goal of finishing that construction in the summer. From there, water work would be projected to wrap up this fall. Leading up to those two target dates, the chief engineer added that the DPW will work to set up a public meeting in the spring to provide updates to those within the neighborhood.

Sedewitz told councilors that the hope is to have everything related to the Saxonville Intersection Improvement Project wrapped up within three years.

The DPW has made multiple 2025 fiscal year cost requests for this work. Sedewitz outlined those requests during the City Council meeting: $450,000 would be utilized for sewer work, $700,000 would be allocated for water work, and nearly $6.2 million would be earmarked for general funding requests during the construction and oversight process.

District 2 City Councilor Brandon Ward—who represents the area where the majority of the project is set to be carried out—explained that he wants to see the work done right, as these intersections may not be under this type of microscope again for decades. He told Sedewitz that the city should find a way to get wires underground, improve parking, and boost the appearance of the area in order to make local residents and business owners satisfied.

“I think—for many—the vision of Saxonville and for McGrath Square is that it’s not a pass-through, that it’s not just an intersection you drive through, but it’s a destination,” Ward continued.

City Councilors Adam Steiner (District 3) and Janet Leombruno (At-Large) went on to outline concerns they’ve received from constituents regarding turns at the intersection of Concord Street and Danforth Street, adding that they would want to investigate any short-term improvements while the long-term project is developed. Members of the public attending the meeting in-person and virtually gave suggestions related to things like improved signage and crosswalks in addition to the timing of traffic lights by that intersection.

Sedewitz said that the city installed new striping and speed mitigation signs in recent years. He did mention, however, that intersection issues seem to stem from traffic signals—a challenge that would not be quick to fix. Sedewitz explained that making side roads one way paths can lead to further traffic backups to stretches such as School Street as well.

The topic of Athenaeum Hall was also brought up, as the building has not been utilized in nearly 30 years. Initial approvals to renovate the site that were approved at 2013’s Annual Town Meeting have not materialized.

District 1 City Councilor Christine Long asked Mayor Charlie Sisitsky if there’s any Community Development Block Grant money being made available for the Athenaeum.

“The Block Grant money is very limited,” Sisitsky replied.

“The grants they give out are in the $5,000, $10,000 range—nothing significant that would even come close to helping with the problems that were discussed tonight.”

Sisitsky explained that the plan has been to secure funding via the Community Preservation Act. He said that an application was submitted for review, but added that he doesn’t know where it stands at this time.

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