A Billerica selectman who painted hometown crosswalks green was set to face misdemeanor charges on Monday, after earlier being asked to resign.
Police planned to charge Selectman George Simolaris with wanton damage to property after the official spent the weekend painting the crossings, Town Manager John Curran said Monday.
Simolaris, a painter by trade and an outspoken local transportation activist, told Metro it was his frustration about a slow-moving project in the town center that inspired him to act.
“In our whole town, the crosswalks are deplorable,” Simolaris said.
The crosswalks were supposed to be painted in November of last year, but the deadline had been pushed back several times, he said. So, over the weekend, he put on his white suit and painted three-and-a-half crosswalks himself.
Simolaris said he lives near the crosswalks, as do seniors in a group home who cross the street regularly.
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But Town Manager Curran condemned Simolaris’ actions, calling them irresponsible and illegal.
“These crosswalks were painted with a paint that’s not the right kind of paint and it was tracked all over the street. It was wet for a long period of time and we don’t know if it caused damage to cars,” Curran said. “He created a complete mess in the town center that had to be cleaned up at huge expense and strain of resources.”
Cleaning up the paint, including police detail at the site, cost the town more than $4,000, Curran said. He said the town would also seek restitution for cleanup costs, but would not pursue felony charges.
"We don't think the intent was malicious," Curran said.
Atown center pedestrian safety improvement project in Billerica had fallen behind schedule, and Billerica Town Manager John Curran recently threatened to fine the contractor responsible for the upgrades, according to The Lowell Sun.
Billerica Board of Selectmen chairman John Piscatelli said he has asked Simolaris to resign.
Stepping down would be the "best course of action" for the town official, Piscatelli told Metro.
"I don't think, after what he's done, he can continue to be an effective leader for the town," Piscatelli said. "He's a role model who made a really poor choice and he needs to bear responsibility for that choice."
Piscatelli said the road project, while delayed, was moving forward. He said he believed contractors would finish painting the crosswalks in a few more weeks.
"I think we would all prefer that the work was done a little bit quicker," he said. "George let his frustration and impatience get the best of him."
Simolaris on Monday said he was remorseful.
“I didn’t really think that I would be getting into this problem that I’m in now, or else I would not have done it,” Simolaris said. “I’m sorry. I won’t do it again. I didn’t know.”