STATE REP RACE: Candidates Debate How To Help Local Small Businesses, Improve Route 38

WILMINGTON, MA — At last month’s 19th Middlesex State Representative debate, candidates were asked what they would do to help small businesses in Wilmington and Tewksbury, including those along Route 38, be successful.

“I think the biggest problem is the street itself,” said Patricia Meuse (I-Tewksbury). “Route 38 is not wide enough to take care of the traffic for those businesses. You can’t get out of those businesses during the daytime. The planning is poor. When they put developments on 38, they don’t plan ahead.”

“For pedestrians, Route 38 needs sidewalks on both sides of the street so they don’t interrupt the flow of the traffic,” added Meuse. “They need to repair the road. The road is a mess. They probably need to widen it. And there needs to be a plan in each town — if we want new businesses, how do we make it easily accessible and ease the traffic as well?”

“I’m 100% pro-small business,” said Pina Prinzivalli (R-Tewksbury). “Speaking to some of the small businesses we currently have, there’s a lot of regulations they’re not happy with and is very expensive. Rent is very expensive. I’d like to work with our local officials to see what we can do for these small businesses and to lower their annual filing fees of $500.”

“I will always stand up for small businesses.” added Prinzivalli. “We recently had a situation in Tewksbury with a boycott of a small business. I’m the only candidate here tonight that has stood up for that small business, whose owner is a sitting State Rep and completely beloved, Jim Lyons. I consider him a friend of mine. The business is Dandi-Lyons. This is a business he needs to support his family. I’m 100% small business and will always stand up for them.”

“Route 38, when I started driving, I think had six lights on it. Now the towns have exploded in terms of population,” said Dave Robertson (D-Tewksbury).  “I’m the only candidate that has said a private landowner cannot develop. I understand we need to be ahead of the curve here, we need to work with local town officials, the state, and local business owners. But to tell someone what they can or cannot do with their commercial property? That’s what the Planning Board and Zoning Board are for.”

“The problem [on Route 38] is the flow,” added Robertson. “Mile 16 in Tewksbury, right across from Dandi-Lyons, or here in Wilmington with the stretch of 129 and 38 split off at Burlington Avenue, they’re chokepoints. Why? There’s outdated traffic infrastructure. They’re timed lights. And if they’re smart lights, they’re not timed particularly well. Their turning lanes are restrictive… And we have to take a look beyond Route 38 and make sure 129 and 133 don’t shoulder the burden of traffic diverted from Route 38. It needs to be a complete picture.”

Moderator Tom Zuppa then asked the candidates to respond to the Dandi-Lyons controversy.

“I just heard about it yesterday,” said Patricia Meuse (I-Tewksbury). “I thought I’d stay out of it. Jim is a very good friend of mine as well. If you asked me what type of ice cream I like, I’d say Dandi-Lyons. I think that was a single person who made a statement and she was way off base.”

“For those who may not be in the know, the Republican Town Committee of Tewksbury put out something saying I was anti-small business because a fellow Democrat in Wilmington called for a boycott of his business,” said Dave Robertson (D-Tewksbury). “This was a boycott I was not consulted with. It’s not a boycott I support. And it was something she said on her own private Facebook page, which brings up the question of her first amendment rights… This is a discrattionary issue. I want to get to work as State Rep on things like taxation, Route 38, smart development, new schools.”

“My opponent is saying the person who put this out has the right to do so,” said Pina Prinzivalli (R-Tewksbury). “And that’s fine. But if you’re pro-small business, and it’s your party that’s putting the boycott out there, you should have spoken up. I was the only candidate that stood up for that small business.”

“I not only have, but my committee has responded and done so in public and to all these panelists’ media outlets,” clarified Robertson. 

Watch the debate, courtesy of Wilmington Community Television, below. Fast-foward to 15:11 for the discussion on Route 38.

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