Photo: Waverley MBTA Commuter Rail Station
By Jim Williams
In September, MBTA General Manager Frank DePaola made a presentation at an open Board of Selectmen meeting concerning handicap accessibility at the Waverley Commuter Rail station. Public comments opposed closing the station and Sami Bagdadhy, chair of the board, stated the Selectmen’s position was that our existing stations should remain open and be handicap accessible.
Subsequently, a proposed MBTA design charrette was expanded to an open public meeting now scheduled for Nov. 16 at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St. Then, in late October, the MBTA informed the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board of three possible outcomes including making Waverley accessible; closing Waverley; or leaving Waverley open and investing the $30 million estimated to make Waverley compliant with applicable State and Federal accessibility regulations into a system-wide project that would impact a significantly larger number of customers with disabilities.
I am standing to support alternative three above for the following reasons:
- The proposal of a third alternative defeats the logical fallacy (bifurcation) that only making the Waverley handicap accessible or closing it are the possible remedies when, in fact, there is in reality a range of options.
- The previous strategy of building a third station in Belmont and closing the existing two has objectively and overwhelmingly the least favorable cost/benefits profile of any possible solution.
- The Fitchburg line has been in existence for more than 125 years and was and still is integral to the economic development and well-being of Belmont.
So what can be done? First, get informed and write letters to the elected, appointed, or employed officials responsible starting with Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. This can make a difference.
Second, attend the Nov. 16 meeting and let your voice be heard loud and clear. For the MBTA, I recommend working with Belmont’s Economic Development Committee and Community Path Implementation Committee in addition to the Belmont Disability Access Commission in developing responsible solutions for this important initiative. For the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board, I recommend exploring with the MBTA the acceptable alternatives that will impact the largest number customers with disabilities.
In closing, I want to remind everyone listening: The railroad belongs to us; The State and Federal funding involved is our money; We get the government we deserve.
Jim Williams, Selectman
This communication is compliant with the State’s Open Access laws as I have not discussed its contents with either Baghdady or fellow Selectman Mark Paolillo.