ORLEANS — Something more than a plain-vanilla roundabout is in the works for the intersection of routes 28 and 39 with Quanset Road in South Orleans.
When members of the Orleans Improvement Association heard that the vexing confluence of multiple roads was going to be enhanced, they saw an opportunity to further their mission to “preserve and enhance the physical character of Orleans,” OIA board member Nancy Jorgensen told the select board May 5.
Pending final state Department of Transportation approval, the new roundabout will feature a 10-foot-tall “modern abstract tribute to a sailing coastal town,” said Jorgensen. It will be the work of noted Chatham artist and gallery owner Tom Odell, and is a gift to the town from the OIA.
“Many of us were keenly interested in the design of this circle,” Jorgensen said, “making it maintenance-free, user-friendly, and attractive. We asked local arts organizations for names of local sculpture artists. We solicited ideas from them and designs. A committee of community members made the selection.”
O’Dell “worked hand in hand with the OIA, (DPW/Natural Resources Director) Tom Daley, and the engineers,” said Jorgensen. “I thoroughly enjoyed working with Nancy and her group,” Daley said.
Since its creation in 1986, the OIA has donated $367,000 in civic improvements, money raised primarily through major events such as its annual garden tour (set for June 26 this year). Funds have gone toward, among many others, brick sidewalks on Main Street, creation of Theresa’s Way Walk downtown, new picnic furniture at Nauset Beach, the Nauset Regional Middle School greenhouse, the holiday “Giants” lighted sculptures, and for design of town sewer covers stamped with an image of the Jonathan Young windmill.
The $20,500 cost of “Wind Dance” “all comes from OIA,” Jorgensen said. “There’s no other expense to the town.” “Thank you so much for working with us,” Select Board Chair Kevin Galligan said. “This is a tremendous gift.”
Select board member Mefford Runyon was already sounding a little proprietary about the sculpture. “Having lived and gone through that intersection for 35 years, anything you can do to protect it would be worth it,” he said. “There are so many out-of-control vehicles going through that intersection. In case somebody goes hopping over that rotary, it’d be nice to have something to stop them before they get to the sculpture.”
Noting that this “is not a normal thing for a rotary,” select board member Cecil Newcomb said the roundabout will have “people coming in four different directions, slowing down, going in circles. You’ve got to pay attention to where you’re going and not be looking at a sailboat.”
“We’ve been talking with DOT,” Daley said. “I think they’re going to be fine with it. You need some visual context in the center. This is designed with that in mind.” DOT’s engineers “have been very excited about this,” Jorgensen observed. “It’s so creative, so different for them.”
“This is one of the gateways we’ve been trying for years to get done,” select board member Andrea Reed told Jorgensen. “The process you’ve done is extraordinary. It says you’re in Orleans now… I hope OIA can help us get through the process of our gateways and grow coordination with the cultural district, keep us evolving with the palette and taste and sensibility you bring to the history of Orleans. Brava, and onward.”
“I think there needs to be more discussion,” Jorgensen said. “We have another circle in town that needs some work. This conversation can continue with a wider group.”
Daley said the roundabout construction project should go out to bid in February at a cost of $4.9 million to be paid by the state; the town’s contribution was for design funds. “It’s another year-and-a-half before they break ground,” he said. “Next year will be right-of-way (work). That’s in DOT’s hands.”
To learn more about the Orleans Improvement Association, go to www.orleansimprovement.org/