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December 17, 2012

Ipswich streetscape work has some residents concerned

IPSWICH — As construction crews continued to do roadwork and install new concrete sidewalks near the North Green this week, several residents shared their distaste for the project inside the library.

Both construction workers and librarians said they frequently get an earful of negative comments about the changes.

The streetscape improvement project along North Main Street and surrounding roadways will bring new sidewalks, granite curbing and landscaping. But the construction, which started this summer, will soon shut down for the winter, said Glenn Gibbs, the town’s director of planning and development.

County Road resident Elizabeth Dorman said many residents are concerned about decreased street parking, handicapped access to the library and fire trucks being able to navigate the street.

“You can see the road is narrower and there are less parking spaces,” Dorman said, as she walked out of the library.”I am sure it looked good as a plan, but it doesn’t seem practical.”

A number of other residents have expressed concerns about the project at recent selectmen’s meetings, including issues with parked cars blocking traffic on Sunday during church hours.

“The issues raised are mostly because of the construction,” Gibbs said. “Those concerns will mostly go away when the striping and signage is put in place.”

Before the granite curbs were installed, people would park on the grass. The new design will provide additional parking spaces, he said, so people won’t have to park on the grass.

Gibbs said there are several reasons the improvements were needed, including making the area more pedestrian-friendly and preserving the North Green, which had been eroding as a result of vehicles parking on the grass.

Police Chief Paul Nikas said that because drivers can no longer park on the grass, many people park in places that are now travel lanes.

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