I posted the agenda for the Tuesday meeting already. I will insert the agendas again at the end of this post.
The agenda and informational materials for the Tuesday meeting of the select board are available here – 20190219-agenda and materials
Peak House sign
My favorite part of the materials is the letter to Senator Feeney, from the MassDOT Administrator, about the request from the Peak House Heritage Center to correct the factual errors in the MassDOT sign at the Peak House.
First, it is instructive as to what matters most in state government, since MassDOT gotthe letter about the issue from the Peak House Heritage Center, with letters of support from both the Board of Selectmen and Senator Feeney. MassDOT opted to address its response to the writer who had the least to do with the matter and the Town of Medfield, our State Senator, rather than to the person who addressed the issue to them.
Second, I was fascinated to learn where and why the sign originated, as it is certainly substantially nicer than most state signs.
Third, I was amused by the language MassDOT used to deny the request: “MassDOT would be reluctant to deface the marker because of minor factual
errors that have come to light after such a long period of time.”
MassDOT’s letter does propose a “compromise” solution, a new MassDOT sign to be added that notes the error in the original sign:
Please be aware that the Peak House marker is one of 275 cast iron roadside historical markers that were erected throughout the Commonwealth in 1930 by the Massachusetts Department of Public Works, MassDOT’s predecessor agency, to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Massachusetts Bay Colony Tercentenary Commission designed the markers, chose the historical subjects, and prepared the text under the guidance of Samuel Eliot Morison, eminent author and Professor of History at Harvard University. Approximately 170 of these markers still exist.
Mr. Robert Gregg of the Peak House Heritage Center has notified MassDOT that the text on the Peak House marker contains three factual errors. Mr. Gregg has suggested to Mary Rafferty of the MassDOT Environmental Services staff that MassDOT should remove the errors by grinding off certain raised cast iron letters and numbers from the marker and then applying new letters and numbers to provide the correct information. The Medfield Board of Selectmen has endorsed Mr. Gregg’s proposal in a letter to MassDOT dated January 15, 2019.
MassDOT considers the Tercentenary Markers to have historical significance in their own right, above and beyond the text conveyed on each marker. The original markers are nearly 90 years old and they interpret history as it was understood at the time of the Tercentenary commemoration. MassDOT would be reluctant to deface the marker because of minor factual errors that. have come to light after such a long period of time.
I like MassDOT’s suggested solution for correcting the marker. It allows us to preserve the existing marker which is itself a historical artifact while also providing visitors with the correct information about the Peak House.
Chris, I agree. I thought it was a pretty elegant solution to what was a thorny problem for them, and categorizing the marker as historic in its own right gets them there.