WRENTHAM — The two controversial stop signs that the town posted on East Side Road that have sparked an uproar from dozens of residents may be coming down.
At a followup meeting before selectmen this past week, resident Richard Anderson, who is in the sign business, said he would be willing to donate a digital speed sign, and other residents responded they would pitch in to help him pay for it.
Several dozen residents again appeared before selectmen, pushing for the signs to be removed, contending they are inconvenient and annoying and complaining most residents weren’t consulted before the signs went up.
Others, however, support the signs to reduce speeding and enhance safety — the reason they were were put up in July at the request of some residents.
The lengthy road runs from South Street (Route 1A) to the shores of Lake Pearl, and the 100-home Wampanoag Estates also funnels traffic onto the dead-end street.
Those opposing the signs argued they don’t think they reduce speeding and question how much of a problem that is on a road that has a posted 30 mph speed limit.
“I do see people sometimes go too fast. The majority don’t,” Diane Duffey of East Side Road said.
“People stop and speed back up again,” Jeff Vahue of nearby Annawon Avenue said, maintaining studies have shown stop signs are not effective.
Pat Sullivan of nearby Riverside Drive countered the signs are catching drivers so much by surprise they are slamming on their brakes, which could lead to accidents.
Selectmen Chairman Joseph Botaish reminded residents his board discussed the situation at more than one meeting and felt the stop signs would be the least invasive step for safety’s sake.
After the last meeting, town officials reviewed the situation and continued to support the signs, saying they appear to be working and slowing vehicles.
“I think those are the most effective thing that could have gone in,” Selectman Jerry McGovern said. “I think it would be premature to take the signs down.”
“We think it’s a safety issue,” selectman and former police chief James Anderson said, speculating if a child was hit, people would question why something wasn’t done. “We did look at a lot of options.”
Selectman Gerry Nolan, who used to live in the area, said he visited East Side Road several times. “Cars responded to children,” he said, admitting he also observed vehicles blowing through the stop signs and felt they weren’t much of an inconvenience. “It’s only three seconds. It’s not a big deal.”
Public Works Superintendent Michael Lavin frowned on installing speed humps. He said they become an expensive maintenance issue and don’t really slow SUVs down. “It’s a fairly low cost solution,” Lavin said of stop signs.
But selectmen last week invited alternative suggestions from residents.
For most of the meeting, and until Anderson’s proposal, Botaish said he wasn’t hearing any practical solution.
Selectman Stephen Langley, who lives on East Side Road, has been criticized by some residents for voting for the signs in June, as they contended he had a conflict of interest.
Langley said he again looked into the issue and while not being told by town counsel or the state ethics commission it would be a direct violation, decided to step down from any further discussion or vote so as to not give any appearance of possible impropriety.
“The rate of speed is slower,” Langley said, speaking as a resident from the audience. “You definitely see folks fly down that road.”
Anderson will report to selectmen at their next meeting, Sept. 17, on the progress of a speed sign, and the board could take a vote to have the stop signs removed.
“I think we have a plan,” Botaish said. “You’re helping solve a problem.”