A good fence may make a good neighbor, but it is a road that has stirred up old animosities between two municipalities in Middlesex County.
Ravine Road, a small street split between Stoneham and Melrose that serves as a shortcut for motorists between West Wyoming Avenue and the Fellsway, has become a renewed point of concern at several Stoneham selectmen’s meetings over the past month.
The road is both a winding park thoroughfare connecting the Fellsway to Woodland Road and a small 700-foot-long residential stretch, with the border between Stoneham and Melrose cutting between houses. Ravine Road has long been a source of contention between the two municipalities, with Stoneham officials claiming that the rush-hour commuters who use the road have made it unsafe for residents.
In the past, concerns over Ravine have become so heated that, in late 2008, Stoneham tried to unilaterally turn the road into a one-way street. Melrose filed an injunction stopping the effort, citing the move as a violation of Massachusetts state law and forcing the two municipalities into legal negotiations on the issue.
However, due to a perceived inaction on the part of Melrose, Stoneham selectman Robert Sweeney recently renewed the issue with the board, in response to complaints he received from Ravine residents about motorists regularly breaking the 25 mph speed limit on the road.
“There may not be a lot of accidents down there, but there have been plenty of near misses,” said Sweeney. “The speed of traffic on the road has been giving people some gray hairs.”
Frustration with the perceived inaction has led to a request by Stoneham Selectman John DePinto that a temporary Jersey barrier be placed on the town line in the middle of the road if solid steps are not taken to rectify the problem by May 7.
Melrose City Solicitor Robert Van Campen noted that he was uncertain over DePinto’s criteria for the temporary barrier, but claimed that the city of Melrose has been making a good-faith effort to find a solution to the issue. Van Campen also reported that Melrose has been working with the town of Stoneham regarding the selection of a traffic engineer to study the area.
“We’re very cooperative, we’re ready to do whatever it takes to alleviate any problems in the area,” said Van Campen. “Obviously though, we need a traffic expert to identify what those problems are and lay out any recommendations for us on what to do.”
Melrose Patch will continue to update readers on the Ravine Road situation as more details become available.