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Billerica Selectman Refuses To Resign Amid Crosswalk Painting Controversy

BILLERICA (CBS) -- A Billerica selectman insists that he won't resign after he painted green-and-white crosswalks without the town's permission.

A Billerica selectman says he painted crosswalks in town green and white. (WBZ-TV)

On Friday, Selectman George Simolaris says a local business owner asked him about three unfulfilled town pledges to paint crosswalks at the town center. They were due to be painted in May, he says.

"I'm tired of telling people it's going to be done and it makes me look like a liar," he said.

So, he started painting the crosswalks over a three-day period.

"I took the green paint and I painted it, figuring if we like it, we can put the white (and) impose it over it...and that it would be safer and look better and it was better than nothing for now," Simolaris said.

Simolaris says he was told yellow was the only acceptable color to use on the crosswalks. He says he used green California Premium Allflor paint on the streets.

He says he wasn't trying to be a "lone wolf" and his primary concern was public safety.

On Sunday, DPW crews began power washing the crosswalks.

DPW crews had to power wash crosswalks painted by Billerica Selectman George Simolaris. (Karen Twomey/WBZ NewsRadio 1030)

Town Manager John Curran says they understand where Simolaris is coming from but would have done the crosswalk project in the next few weeks and that he cannot mess with public safety.

The town is saying Simolaris will have to cover the cleanup and police detail, which is expected to cost about $4,200.

Simolaris started Monday night's Selectmen meeting with an apology and a little finger pointing.

"I did not mean to create this sort of trouble first of all, or expense," Simolaris said. "The crosswalks were barely visible, I should not have painted them but you should have had them painted."

At the same time the meeting was being held, the town was busy repainting the crosswalks.

DPW power washed crosswalks painted by Billerica Selectman George Simolaris. (Karen Twomey/WBZ NewsRadio 1030)

"You know how government works, things don't get done," Simolaris said Monday night. "This is a basic and everything is red tape and you try to get something done and it's not easy even from the position of a Board of Selectmen."

Simolaris, who is a professional painter, will face destruction of property charges and has been asked to resign. People at the meeting Monday night do not like those options.

"What George did, we should be paying him for the paint," one man said.

Speaker after speaker spoke up for Simolaris and the backlash at the other selectmen was hard to contain.

"The town was taking 10 months to paint a few stripes," said Chris Musker. "He did it for our protection. I was able to cross the street and not get killed last night."

After serving three years as a selectman, Simolaris says this isn't the first time he has locked horns with officials, as they have differed on issues such as the reconfiguration of town center, moving the high school and expanding the prison.

"I'm a good person," he told WBZ-TV's Ken MacLeod, adding that he has also served as a substitute teacher for years and a coach for more than 30 years. "I care about this town and nothing was getting done."

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Karen Twomey Reports:

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