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Clearing up some misconceptions about 40B

September 26, 2011

One of the biggest arguments against putting a 40B affordable housing development on East Street is because residents are concerned it will burden the town’s resources, namely police. The town’s other 40B development, The Preserve on Route 1, has seen a lot of police activity over the years since being built in 2005. That is unquestionable.

A potential burden on public safety is a legitimate concern and a reasonable justification for opposing the East Street 40B. But it can help to have the facts.

But Walpole Deputy Police Chief John Carmichael said The Preserve isn’t actually a particularly problematic area in terms of crime. “The misconception is that it’s a problem area,” he said. Police have responded to the area over 1500 times in the six years that it has been there, according to Carmichael. That equates to about 250 calls per year. That number is clearly very high and does utilize manpower, he said, but those calls are primarily minor incidents, like disturbing-the-peace calls or trespassing. The Preserve’s location on Route 1 away from the heart of downtown also compounds the problem by adding to the distance required for cops to patrol there regularly and to respond quickly to incidents. A 40B closer to downtown, like the proposed East Street development, will enable more routine patrols there without significantly affecting the force’s response time to incidents elsewhere in town.

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