SHIRLEY — The Board of Selectmen and the Planning Board met in joint session Monday night to discuss a priority list of local streets that need a face-lift or a complete makeover or both, focusing for now on creating a safe, ADA-compliant sidewalk network from Valley View Way in the village area to the town’s two schools: Lura A. White Elementary School and Ayer Shirley Regional Middle School.
Montachusetts Regional Planning Commission staffers Sherri Bean and John Hume have been working with the town to come up with a draft plan that lays out the envisioned work and includes rough cost estimates for each of the 14 projects on a prioritized list.
Bean said it was a collaborative effort that included working closely with former Town Administrator Patrice Garvin, the DPW foreman and the Planning Board and reaching out for public input.
An online survey drew 50 responses, she said, most of which targeted the Center, Benjamin Hill Road and the Common as areas of concern.
“We focused on connecting the village and the common,” Bean said. Although safety was a key component, the projects also include charrells for bicycles, absent room for 5-foot bike lanes on both sides of the road and solar-powered, flashing, radar speed sensors placed in the school zone on Lancaster Road and on Front Street near the train station.
The 14-item list includes sidewalk repairs and other upgrades and installations on Lancaster Road, Main and Front streets; Ayer, Center and Parker roads; Clark, Brown and Benjamin roads. In that order, with rough cost estimates for each project.
But Bean reminded the boards that the list can still be changed after the first draft — with its ballpark figures — is submitted to the State Department of Transportation, or MassDot.
The application for the first round of funding (there are two per year) is due Sept. 1.
If the town makes the cut, it becomes eligible for a grant up to $400,000, which can be used toward multiple projects or just one, Bean said.
Planning Board member Janet Tice suggested kicking in money from the town’s Chapter 90 state highway funds, if there’s money left after paving jobs on the DPW’s list are done.
Bean replied that the state would like that and it might help forward the application.
The boards voted unanimously to approve the prioritization plan as presented and the selectmen authorized Town Administrator Mike McGovern to submit the application.
Chairman Debra Flagg agreed with the Planning Board’s focus on safe routes for kids to walk or ride their bikes to school, but it would be good to spruce up the streetscape, too. “It will also beautify downtown,” she said.
Bean said it would help commuters as well. “People do walk and bike to the train,” she said. “Ideally, there will be no gaps when it’s all done.”