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Nashoba Publishing/Mary Arata
Ayer selectman Christopher Hillman is launching a traffic island beautification program. Here, Hillman stands aside the Carlton Circle rotary in Ayer which he said is one critical focal point of his program.
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AYER – Instead of driving past the problem, Ayer selectman Christopher Hillman is looking to take on traffic islands.

“I’m big into beautification,” said Hillman.

Hillman is enlisting businesses and organizations to “adopt-an-island.”

“It will take the burden off our public works,” said Hillman. But the spin-off benefit is to both the town and for groups and businesses that would be entitled to plant a high-profile sign on the island in return for their services.

“I’ve been approached by several landscapers,” said Hillman. “Signs could read something like ‘This island adopted by Joe’s Landscaping. This can be open to any business. I may even sponsor one myself. We’re just trying to lay the ground work right now.”

Hillman has his sights set on the town’s largest traffic island – the Carlton Circle which is largely surrounded by fast food businesses and serves as entry points for downtown Ayer, Devens, and Harvard. It’s the circle where Routes 2A, 110, and 111 converge.

“I believe it’s the gateway to Ayer,” said Hillman of the rotary. “We need to show our town off to people coming through. I don’t know what the car volume is here a day but is’ substantial.” Hillman said he feels strongly that attention is needed at the intersection of Sandy Pond and Willow Roads by the old school house.

At Carlton Circle, Hillman said the overgrown shrubbery posses a driving hazard as well, in that it blocks drivers’ view as they ride on the rotary, particularly as they approach Barnum Road. Hillman said that, beyond lawn mowing and flowers, there’s some heavy scrub brush removal needed, as well as selective removal of trees.

“The trees are overgrown,” said Hillman to his fellow selectmen on May 22. “This is beyond the scope of just a few people on a Saturday.”

“My vision? I’d love to see this as a focal point for the holidays,” said Hillman. “We don’t technically have a town common. There’s power there. We can light the trees for the holidays.”

Business or groups looking to adopt an Ayer traffic island should contact Hillman at chillman@ayer.ma.us. Hillman is looking to ramp up this year.

“I honestly think it will take a year or two to get it rolling,” said Hillman.

Hillman said he’s also coordinating his efforts with both the Department of Public Works and the Economic Development Department.

Hillman’s fellow selectmen passed the baton to their newest member to lead on the initiative. “I think it’s this is a wonderful idea,” said selectman Pauline Conley.

“I think it’s a great idea,” echoed selectman Gary Luca, who said in his hometown of Malden “all the median strips are done coming into town” with the islands maintained by their respective sponsors.

Follow Mary Arata at twitter.com/maryearata.

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