The Walpole Rebels and Norwood Mustangs rivalry, notorious amongst all athletes, fires up emotions and team spirit. Such games always have the biggest turnout and are easily some of the most exciting games of the season. With everyone getting involved, the rivalry is part of both towns’ cultures. But, with all rivalries put aside, how do the towns work together on issues involving both their residents? Would they compromise on the safety of the residents of one town to benefit the other? The recent issue around the MBTA commuter rail station at Windsor Gardens in Norwood sparks up the debate, as Walpole commuters using the station face inconvenience and safety issues.
Until the summer of 2016, commuters avoided the morning traffic jam in the Windsor Gardens parking lot by using an unofficial second entrance to the station, located at Ryan Drive, Norwood. Constructed out of wooden pallets, the entrance was weak, unsafe, and crossed the tracks in a dangerous manner. Although it was dangerous, many Walpole residents took the risk to shorten their commute to the same station.
In August, however, the back entrance to the station was officially closed by The Norwood Board of Selectmen due to complaints from Ryan Drive residents. The residents asserted matters of safety in their argument: commuters dropped off in cars on the dead end street and created morning and rush hour traffic, jeopardizing the safety of children in the area. Cars parked there for the duration of the work day by travellers caused congestions, making it difficult for school buses to enter and exit the street.
In terms of working together, the unofficial entrance seemed to benefit the Walpole commuters while threatening the safety of Norwood residents. The residents of Ryan Drive had a right to complain, especially as the unofficial entrance proved to threaten their safety. The Norwood Board of Selectmen also addressed liability issues concerning commuters crossing the train tracks by way of a makeshift wooden pathway that shortens their walks to the station. When it comes to issues involving both towns, safety takes precedence to all other inconveniences.
Closing the entrance at Ryan Drive, however, turned the tables on the safety issue. Walpole commuters that walk to the station have now opted for walking to the main entrance via 1-A/Main St. Main St, intersecting with Mylod St, is a busy road, especially during peak morning travel hours where there is high-speed traffic. The lack of sidewalks also makes it dangerous for pedestrians to walk to the station. During winter, snow banks narrow the roads, side roads become icy and the morning darkness makes it difficult for drivers to see pedestrians. The inconvenience of the lack of a second entrance and the dangerous high speed traffic of 1-A/Main St. have caused several travelers to stop using the Windsor Gardens station altogether. Commuters have turned to driving into Boston or to another station with available parking, as parking space at the station is given only to residents at the Berkshires at Windsor Gardens.
The citizens of Walpole proposed an alternate option, keeping in mind the issues from both Norwood and Walpole residents: opening up the second entrance at Ryan Dr. to pedestrians only. By creating a safe pathway for crossing the tracks, liability issues would be addressed. Ryan Drive residents would no longer face the dangers posed by cars and traffic in the dead end. By opening the second entrance to pedestrians only, the of plight daily walkers will be satisfied, as they no longer have to take the risk of walking on Main St. Closing the entrance to pedestrians only eliminates the concerns of traffic safety for local residents. Officiating the entrance will also appeal to those who have stopped using the entrance due to safety concerns on 1A/Main St, bringing back business to the Windsor Gardens MBTA commuter rail station. If the construction of a second entrance is approved, funds will be requested from MBTA, as the second entrance will ultimately increase their business.
Instead of jeopardizing one town’s safety for the ease of another, the new proposal aims to benefit residents from both towns. Although Walpole and Norwood may have their differences on the sports pitch, the safety of all residents is always their number one priority.