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Windham business owners: Don't take our traffic light

WINDHAM - Local businesses are making it clear that they don't agree with the state Department of Transportation's plans to relocate the traffic light at the intersection of Route 111 and Route 111A within the next two years.

During Monday night's Windham Board of Selectmen meeting, when Interstate 93 Project Manager Peter Stamnas shared an update on the ongoing highway-widening project, a handful of area business owners urged state and town officials to consider other options.

Max Puyanic, chief executive officer of ConvenientMD, said the existing traffic light weighed heavily on his decision to open his urgent care center at 125 Indian Rock Road in Windham last year.

"We chose this spot because it had access to that traffic light. I don't think our business would succeed without that light," Puyanic said. "I've recently spoken with some other area business owners, and I learned that many people weren't aware of the possible change until recently."

Puyanic said the removal of the light would be problematic since many of the clinic's patients are traveling off Route 93, meaning they'd have to take a dangerous left turn onto Route 111.

"We'd be in big trouble if that light went," he said. Puyanic said property owners in the area as a whole would, in turn, have a hard time surviving due to lower property values because commercial landlords' properties wouldn't be as appealing for high-volume tenants.

Andy Magnuson, whose wife, Melissa, operates the Canobie Lake Animal Hospital at their 61 Range Road property, said he just learned about the pending traffic light changes earlier this month and he's very concerned about its implications.

"When someone has an emergency they want to get someplace quickly and that won't be possible without this light," Magnuson said. "We really love this town, and we believe that reducing the traffic flow would reduce our property value and frankly, I think it would impact our business negatively."

Belinda Sinclair, owner of Woof Woof Doggie Daycare and Training at 70 Range Road, agreed.

Sinclair said the light change would also affect "at least 100 homes in the area."

"I don't think this is in our town's best interest and would only create new problems," she said.

Vess Liakas, who's owned the Windham Restaurant at 59 Range Road for over a dozen years, wasn't present at this week's meeting but submitted a letter to the board.

Liakas said the area in question "has become a town center in recent years, with many new businesses in the area."

"I believe this intersection would have potential for serious accidents," he added.

Rob Woodland, president of Woodland Design Group, said recent studies of the area's traffic suggest the existing traffic signal is necessary for both safety reasons as well as traffic management.

Woodland said the plan now is to hold a meeting with Windham business and property owners and DOT officials to address the proposed traffic signal changes and determine who's responsible for the site should the signal remain.

Stamnas said the DOT would be willing to consider all options, though warned that any changes to the plan must be finalized by early fall.

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