Improvements to a Wrightstown Township intersection caused two members of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors to engage in a heated dispute Wednesday night.
The board’s regular meeting directly followed a PennDOT public meeting reviewing the proposed changes to Stoopville Road and Route 413. The improvements, which will be funded by federal stimulus money, include widening the intersection, adding a traffic signal and putting in a left-turning lane from Route 413.
During the opening round of public comment at the supervisors meeting, a resident voiced her concerns about the project, saying it was the first step in turning the road into a highway.
But supervisor Rob Ciervo disputed that assessment and said the improvements are needed to improve safety at the intersection. “When there is an intersection that isn’t safe, according to our own residents, and we can make it safer, we are going to make it safer,” Ciervo said.
Ciervo’s comments didn’t sit well with supervisor Phil Calabro, who accused him of pushing the project down the throats of the leaders in Wrightstown Township.
Ciervo said Wrightstown Township supports the project and was part of a collaboration of leaders from Newtown and Upper Makefield that voted for the improvements to move forward.
In response, Calabro called Ciervo a liar. “The lies in your head keep floating around,” Calabro said.
Board chairman Mike Gallagher cut off the dispute and the board moved on to the rest of the agenda. However, the next day, the disagreement continued in an email exchange between Ciervo and Calabro that included other members of the board and the media.
“I would like to ask you to apologize for calling me a liar last night,” the email from Ciervo to Calabro said. "I mentioned that Wrightstown Township was in favor of making the intersection of Stoopville and 413 safer. You called me a liar for saying this, which was uncalled for and incorrect.”
In response, Calabro said he wasn’t calling Ciervo a liar about Wrightstown’s overall support of the project but rather because he failed to acknowledge the fact that the neighboring township was not in favor of the traffic signal.
“Making the intersection safer would be important. But to take our stimulus for our residents and stick our nose into another township's business was and still is uncalled for,” Calabro said.
Wrightstown Township supervisor Jane Magne confirmed support of the project in an email to Patch Thursday. She said while Wrightstown was “somewhat concerned” about the traffic light, that didn't prevent them from supporting PennDOT's plan.
“Our other major concern was the impact on the properties with homes near the intersection. Gilmore Engineering was able to address that concern quite successfully,” Magne said.