Foxborough Lions Pull Plug on Electric Sign Proposal for Town Common
Per recommendation of Foxborough's Board of Selectmen and town historian, the Lions Club withdrew its proposal to replace the manual message boards on the Town Common with electric signs.
The pursuit of electric signs on Foxborough's Town Common ended Tuesday night when Foxborough Lion Bob Russell withdrew the organization's proposal per the Board of Selectmen's request.
"I have no objections to withdrawing the project," Russell said in response to Foxborough Board of Selectmen chair James DeVellis' request Tuesday. "[The Foxborough Lions] will maintain the signs as we said and we will not come back to the community asking for any financial support."
Russell assured officials the Lions will continue to support repairing the signs and will further research what can be done to maintain the 17-year-old message boards.
"I do know some of the things we have to do but I will go back and re-investigate that and take what actions have to be taken to repair and maintain it," Russell said.
Selectmen were relieved.
"I appreciate everything that the Lions do," said selectman Lynda Walsh. "I am grateful for all the work [Russell did] but the project still needs some work. I was grateful to hear the Lions will look into just repairing the signs."
The decision to withdraw the project came after Town Historian Jack Authelet spoke passionately against the installation of electric signs on Town Common.
"Any illumination even approaching anything we saw in that demonstration last week would be an unending carnival, negatively impacting not only the Common but the entire center of town," Authelet said. ... "These signs would be inviting [a public safety] disaster."
Authelet detailed the history and sacredness of the town's Common, giving selectmen the historical context to make an informative decision on the proposal if needed.
But after Walsh and DeVellis said they were each in full agreement with Authelet, the request to withdraw the proposal was made.
"I’m in full agreement with Jack," DeVellis said. "I’m hard pressed to vote against the Lions. I’m going to ask if they would consider withdrawing the application. I’d rather have it withdrawn."
Russell obliged and just like that, the proposal was off the table. But Authelet urged the board to be certain a similar proposal does not resurface later.
"We need to make sure that a proposal like this with the illuminated signs in such a sensitive area never ever comes before the people of Foxborough again," Authelet said. "It is so totally, obviously not for us."
Recognizing the current signs are in need of repair, Authelet suggested recruiting the help of students and senior citizens.
"[Ask] Southeast Regional students to help do the work," Authelet said. "Take town employees out of the mix, let senior citizens change the signs on a Monday morning but keep the signs on a Monday-to-Monday schedule."
Don't Blame The Lions Club for Proposal
While Authelet was critical of the Lions Club's electric sign proposal, he urged residents not to blame or criticize the organization for bringing the project before the Board of Selectmen.
"The dedicated Lions Club members have been subjected to a continual barrage of criticism because people believe they advanced illuminated signs for the Common," Authelet said. "I have e-mails, I have it in voicemails, I have it everywhere I meet people. 'The Lions Club did us wrong,' they say, when [the Lions Club] did not. All they’re trying to do is do what is right. They promised they’d maintain the signs and came forward to do it."
Authelet told the board while the Lions Club brought the project forward, the concept came from the town's DPW.
"The signs were showing their age and true to their commitment, the Lions Club moved forward and contacted the DPW to see how they would proceed with repairs," Authelet said. "The DPW came back immediately with the recommendation to go electronic.
"The very first question asked by the Lions Club when they heard that was had [Jack Authelet] seen the proposal?
"They were told that I had reviewed the proposal and signed off on it. Unfortunately, that message was conveyed to selectmen so everybody considering this project was of the opinion that it had been signed off on historically."
Authelet's passionate message Tuesday proved he could not be further from signing off on such a project.
A Closer Look at the Proposal
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