Jacquelyn Ballance: Why not mediate Main Street disputes?

Downtown Northampton over Main Street.

Downtown Northampton over Main Street. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

Published: 07-06-2024 8:18 PM

I appreciated David McCutcheon’s July 2 guest column “Common sense needed with Main Street redesign.” Within a few hours I read a variety of wildly differing responses to it on Facebook. I’d like to share my own evolution with this plan here. A couple years ago, when the city asked the public to vote on one of three designs, I voted for #3 because it was endorsed by someone whom I trust on tree issues. Since then I’ve learned more about how other the pieces of the plan fit together. I’ve come to think the plan has more problems than features, problems of disruption and safety, strategy and safety, consequences and safety. Also safety.

On an issue as big as this one, I’d like for Northampton to offer a top-notch mediator to bring all the stakeholders to the table to work out a win/win solution for the businesses, pedestrians, cars, bikes and the trees, too. I feel sure a better solution is possible, and a good facilitator can help open-minded, good-spirited people to find it. Meanwhile the bike lanes on King St scare me as a drive, especially where bike and car lanes criss-cross southbound on King at Finn Street. Fortunately I’ve only ever seen one cyclist on Rtes 5/10 along King Street. It was a northbound cyclist riding in a southbound lane. Did I mention safety?

Jacquelyn Ballance


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