Published in the August 8, 2018 edition


WAKEFIELD — Despite generating a significant amount of controversy, a plan approved by the Town Council to deploy four informational and way-finding kiosks will go forward unchanged.

Town Council Chairman Peter May announced at Monday’s meeting that the four kiosk locations approved at the May 31 Town Council meeting will not change despite objections from citizens and local organizations to one of the sites in particular. A four-sided kiosk proposed for the corner of the Lower Common near Church Street and Lake Avenue that would have a digital component drew sharp criticism from local individuals and groups like the Friends of lake Quannapowitt and the Wakefield Center Neighborhood Association.

That public criticism erupted at a contentious meeting of the Town Council on July 16. Critics objected to the kiosk at Church Street and Lake Avenue based on aesthetics and safety concerns. Some felt that the digital component would be a blight on the Lake and Common area. Others saw it as a potential distraction to motorists in an area with a lot of pedestrian traffic.

The kiosks are being proposed and paid for by the Wakefield Main Streets program.

“The Main Streets organization has worked very hard to help Wakefield be a better place to live,” May said at Monday’s meeting. “This part of their work will help advertise businesses, meetings and events in town. The kiosks are just a small part of their work to help the town of Wakefield and its current and future businesses attract more visitors.”

May said that five alternate locations for the digital kiosk were suggested, but all were either already being used or did not meet the proper criteria.

May noted that he and Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio had recently met with the Traffic Advisory Committee and the TAC found “no safety issues” associated with the placement of the kiosk at the Church Street and Lake Avenue.”

May invited the FOLQ, the Wakefield Neighborhood Association, the Historical Commission and others to provide input to the Main Streets group and to the Town Council regarding the beautification of the kiosks. He floated the possibility of selling bricks similar to those around the flag pole at Colonel Connelly Park to raise additional dollars to help keep the Lake and surrounding areas pristine.

During public participation earlier in the meeting, Karen Faler of the Friends of Lake Quannapowitt said that, while FOLQ had made its position clear that the Common would not be enhanced by adding a digital kiosk, the organization “strongly supports the goals of Main Streets.” She said that both the Lake and the retail district were worthy of protection and the groups should be able to work together.

Faler thanked the Town Council for slowing down the process and for increasing public access to information on the kiosk plan.

Wakefield Main Streets president Bob Mailhoit also spoke during public participation at Monday’s Town Council meeting. He provided a preview of another Main Streets initiative involving a series of short videos promoting the town and local businesses. He previewed videos that highlighted Wakefield Main Streets’ mission as well as promoting local businesses like Kidcasso Art Studio and the Public Kitchen.