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RMV move was a 'fait accompli'

State Police refute Kaprielian's claims

Registrar Rachel Kaprielian is seen arriving at Southbridge Town Hall for Monday’s public hearing during which she repeatedly asserted her claim that State Police ‘signed off’ on safety issues at the Mass Pike RMV site. State Police officials have refuted that claim. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
February 23, 2010
Past and present state police sources rejected Monday's claim by Registrar Rachel Kaprielian that the state police "signed off on" the move to the Charlton Pike location.

"The State Police in no way signed off on this," said a source familiar with the issue who was not authorized to comment publicly. "It was presented to us as a fait accompli."

After a request to get the document on which Kaprielian based her claim, the Registry of Motor Vehicles faxed the Southbridge Evening News a two-page memo from Lt. William Lewis, the Charlton barracks commander, to his superior, Maj. Michael Mucci, the now retired commander of Troop E. Dated July 17, 2009, the memo is clearly the minutes of a meeting involving two officials each from the state police, Registry, and MassHighway, plus three from the Turnpike Authority.

It is not signed by Mucci and does not give any indication the major read it, although retired State Police Col. Reed Hillman said he was probably at least told about it. At the end it clearly states it is not conclusive: "Drafts will be done up with these changes being included for final approval."

Many visitors to the Pike location since then have seen what those changes would end up being, but this memo does not indicate who would give that final approval.

In it, Lewis wrote, "As far as the [Route] 20 entrance and exit, it was determined the best case scenario would be for traffic heading east to have a dedicated left turn lane and traffic heading west would have a dedicated right turn lane."

To Hillman, safety is the critical issue regarding that site. He said several other high-traffic businesses along Route 20 — he mentioned Wendy's in Sturbridge and CVS in Charlton, specifically — have been required to install such turning lanes. The RMV's entrance, he added, should also have traffic lights.

Kaprielian and RMV spokesman Ann Dufresne have repeatedly claimed safety is important to them. At Monday's hearing in Southbridge, Kaprielian claimed more than once, "I would not have opened that parking lot to the public if it had not been signed off on."

See Thursday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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