MEXICO – Left virtually alone for more than 50 years, an innocuous little side street between Main Street’s Far East Restaurant and the Mexico Car Wash has ignited a mini-turf war.
During the winter, steep and narrow Hill Street – a rough, paved road of less than 100 yards that connects Main and Granite streets – is closed.
Last month, then-Selectman Reggie Arsenault convinced fellow selectmen to change Hill Street’s two-way use to one way – down only. Traffic, Arsenault said, had created a hazardous situation for a diabetic resident who is deaf and mentally challenged, and walks daily through the area for required exercise.
That’s when Granite Street residents Janice Lannon and Roland and Anne Marshall, who use Hill Street as a shortcut to get to and from their homes, got involved.
But, the change was good news for Granite Street residents Alan and Brenda Cayer. Selectmen essentially altered the traffic direction to protect Alan’s disabled brother.
Now being squeezed by both sides, selectmen held a public hearing a few weeks ago, but nobody showed up. They held another Wednesday night, setting off a nearly hourlong debate.
Lannon said there hasn’t been one accident on Hill Street for the 50 years that she could recall. She wants the road returned to two-way traffic.
Alan Cayer worries that people driving up the road won’t see his brother because Hill Street crests onto Granite Street. And, he said, drivers have to nose their cars into Granite before stopping to look for oncoming traffic and proceeding. He wants handicap signs placed.
Brenda Cayer foresees an accident happening on brush-obscured Hill Street, where drivers speed and children play. She said she’s seen delivery trucks and police still driving the wrong way up it, ignoring the one-way signs.
Selectman George Byam suggested moving the one-way do-not-enter sign that was placed halfway up the road to allow delivery trucks to access the restaurant down to the intersection of Hill and Main streets.
Roland Marshall suggested making it a three-way stop on Granite Street, allowing cars to drive up Hill Street without stopping at the crest. Selectmen thought that was a good idea until the Cayers, who live at the intersection, objected to traffic stopping and starting in front of their house.
“It’s a shortcut. We all use it. I don’t know why it has to be closed,” Lannon said.
Selectman Peter Merrill motioned to keep Hill Street’s direction change as is – down only – but move signs closer to Main Street, and have the town road crew brush out Hill Street. That was seconded.
After more debate, board Chairwoman Barbara Laramee ended discussion. Selectmen voted 3-1 to keep the status quo, with Selectman Arthur Bordeau objecting.
Lannon wasn’t satisfied.
“If we went out and got signatures, could we reopen this again?” she asked.
“In hindsight, you should have done that before now,” Laramee said.
“In hindsight, I didn’t realize that selectmen would do what they did,” Lannon said.
She then rebuked Merrill, asked the Cayers how long they’d lived on Granite Street and got a reply of four years.
Then, facing selectmen, she pointed a finger at Byam and said, “You told me you were honest! I voted for you (at municipal elections last month)!”
“I voted my conscience,” Byam replied.
Lannon headed for the door, but stopped and looked at the Cayers seated in the back row.
“This ain’t over yet!” she yelled.
“Janice! I don’t allow that here! Apologize to them!” Laramee ordered.
Lannon did, then left.