In the past few months CVS has been seeking planning permission to build a 13,000-square-foot store with 65 parking spaces at the corner of Washington and Swanton streets in Winchester. Together with many other local residents, I am concerned about the impact of this proposal on the neighborhood. I have several causes for concern:
The new store will pose a major safety risk for school children, pedestrians, and cyclists. A traffic study for the new store was completed in July 2012 (probably one of the lightest traffic months of the year), which failed to take into account the existing school year congestion and traffic on Washington Street during morning and afternoon school drop-off and pickup. The traffic study did conclude that the new CVS would generate over 25,000 new car visits per month. As a parent of two school aged children, I am concerned about the safety of their walk to school, especially as the new CVS will have entrances to the parking lot from both Washington and Swanton streets.
While the current commercial buildings on this site are not attractive, the proposed new CVS (larger than the current CVS on Route 28 in Stoneham) will be two stories tall and together with the parking spaces, will consume a large area that seems out of place in a primarily residential neighborhood of smaller houses. Winchester’s long range vision for the downtown Triangle Area mentions that it is an town objective to retain “..existing commercial/business properties for commercial use that do not impact the tranquility of the Triangle’s residential neighborhoods..”, so it is puzzling that the proposal for a very large two story brick building with 65 parking spaces would be considered for this neighborhood.
Finally, it is also puzzling that CVS wants to open such a large, new store, so close to their existing downtown location in Winchester. Is CVS planning to keep both stores, or will they eventually close their downtown location?
There will be a public hearing at the Town Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at 7:45 p.m., and I urge concerned residents to attend to find out more about the plans.