Rail Trail Study Committee –
Update to the Selectmen
11/1/2017 Outlining the Study Committee Recommendations
The Study Committee intends to deliver a report before the end of the year. The highlights of the recommendations are:
- A trail is feasible and desirable for the town
- A professional design study will answer important questions and, above all, provide a sound cost estimate
- The BCRTA has offered to fund such a study with a donation of up to $20k
- The town should sign a lease in 2017 and move forward with a public-private partnership model, provided that an adequate plan to fund the trail can be developed
Update on the formation of the Friends of the Medfield Rail Trail
- A local volunteer group is forming that will
- Pick up the work after the Study Committee
- Educate and inform Medfield residents about the rail trail and its benefits
- Liaise with the BCRTA
- Become an initiative of the Medfield Foundation
- Deliver a design study to the town by March 2017
- Develop a plan to finance the project
- Advocate for the trail at Town Meeting
- Work on construction, and once completed, maintenance of the trail
Christian Donner | pod
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Skype : email@example.com
Office : (617) 661 0802
Direct : ( 617) 681 4006
Cell : (617) 610 1527
In response to a citizen discussion on Facebook, at the Board of Selectmen meeting last night I brought up appointing a citizen “Sidewalk Study Committee.” I have been advocating for better planning around sidewalk construction ever since I noted years ago that the then process seemed ad hoc and came mainly from DPW Superintendent Ken Feeney. I thought the town needed more thoughtful and robust planning, and a process open to resident participation.
Last night, in response to my suggestion to appoint a citizen “Sidewalk Study Committee,” Mike Sullivan opined that he preferred using the moribund Safety Committee, which is where sidewalk planning was sent to die several years ago (as that committee was then newly created with Mike, Ken, and the MPD Chief and had only one independent resident member). After sidewalks were turfed to that then newly created Safety Committee by my then selectmen colleagues, about five to six years ago, we never heard back from that committee about sidewalks.
Last night my fellow selectmen did not support appointing a citizen study committee at this time, but Mike Marcucci opined about the need for a more robust planning process about future sidewalk construction and also financing their construction via bonding – as we cannot easily afford to pay for them out of the operating budget. That makes me hopeful that a majority of the selectmen want planning about sidewalks, and to actually spend money to build them.
To me it all about making safe connections to the downtown from each part of town. I can imagine that trails could also be used. In my part of town, the Bay Colony Rail Trail when built could connect and funnel most of the North side of town down to Harding Street at West Mill Street – and then the connection to the downtown would have to be figured out from that point. Although we really need to also look at the more direct route along Harding Street from the town line at Dover.
The MAPC also shared their map showing the existing trails (in green), trails in the wroks (in yellow), and those they hope to create (in red), for most of eastern Massachusetts.
The ad hoc group met with David Loutzenheiser, Senior Transportation
Planner at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) this morning about bicycle and hiking trails in Medfield. Attending were Town Planner, Sarah Raposa, Town Administrator, Mike Sullivan, Bay Colony Rail Trail Committee chair, Christian Donner, BCRT committee member, George Hinkley, interested resident Alec Stevens, and interested selectman, me.
Per what the MAPC person told Sarah before the meeting, he is working on two rail trail feasibility projects: (1) Wrentham/Norfolk/Walpole/Norwood and (2) Bellingham/Medway/Millis/Medfield. Apparently, he has funding to begin work on these projects and depending on the communities’ levels of interest would like to do so either this fall or next spring.
At the meeting he focused on
- the Bay Colony Rail Trail (in yellow on the above map),
- the possibility of running a rail trail along side of the active north-south rail line (also in yellow on the above map), and
- hiking trail connectors
- from downtown to Rocky Woods (needs a boardwalk North of Hinkley Pond)
- from Elm Street area over to the Bubbling Brook area
- from Rocky Woods to the Blue Hills
The Bay Colony Rail Trail will probably proceed. The North South rail line trail would link many of the main features and sites in town in ways that would dramatically improve the town. Alec Stevens has proposed this in the past, based on his experience with a successful one he knew while growing up in Philadelphia.
It is going to be a long process, requiring lots of work and planning, and it has started.
The Bay Colony Rail Trail Committee and others are meeting next Tuesday with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) about bike paths and trials. Today the MAPC person, David Loutzenheiser, shared its map of trails in town. This is the email from David –
Here is a map of Medfield showing all the trails including proposed rail trails and regional foot trails. Bay Circuit and Charles River link are existing. Tri-Town and a connection to Norfolk are proposed. We can talk more about these concepts on Tuesday. Any glaring errors, I can fix on Monday. Will bring a large copy of the map.
For more information on our regional greenway vision and maps see:
See you on Tues.
Photo of the newly opened Bay Colony Rail Trail in Needham.
Bay Colony Rail Trail Status
Evan Weisenfeld recently asked me what I knew about the current status of the Bay Colony Rail Trail (BCRT) in town, and since I suspect this is a topic of great interest, I will respond here where more will see it, than directly to his comment.
In my mind there continues to be strong interest to build the Medfield section of the BCRT, which, from memory, is less than 1.5 miles long. It would run from Ice House Road to the Dover line. The town study committee that was appointed several years ago to look into building the BCRT, I believe, was waiting to see what Dover did, and now that Dover has voted at its town meeting last week to proceed, I expect that things will start up anew in Medfield.
Christian Donner has been our town’s longest involved proponent of the BCRT, and I read this past week that he thinks we should go ahead with the BCRT without the environmental insurance (it costs the town about $25,000, if the matching state monies still exist, and $50,000 if not), and that we should build it with the use of our DPW, town funds, and private fund raising. If we build it from Ice House Road to the Dover line, I expect Dover would build their section out to meet our section. The BCRT will be a great asset to the town and the region once it is built.
The financial landscape has changed because of the declining price available from recycling the rails, so that the money earned from salvaging the rails will no longer pay for the total installation costs, as it did in the past, so funds will need to be secured for the building of the BCRT. Needham got about $200,000 in state monies from an earmark that Rep. Garlick got passed several years ago, which they combined with monies that were raised privately.
Christian Donner kindly updated me yesterday in a lengthy call on the status of the Bay Colony Rail Trail:
- Newton has built its section, from Rte 9 to the Charles River
- Needham is proceeding with its section from the Dover line more than half way across town
- Dover is working through with a local citizen group what it will be doing
- Christian recently walked the Medfield section with Joe Hattum who runs Iron Horse Preservation, a nonprofit company that builds rail trails in exchange for the right to salvage the metal from the rails. The good news learned from Joe was that the Medfield section has mostly heavier gauge tracks, meaning there is more iron, meaning there is more salvage value, and meaning Joe says that Iron Horse can provide Medfield with a stone dust trail for no cost to the town at all, whereas other towns have had to pay something to get their rail trails.
- Christian reports that while Newton and Needham opted to pay the approximate $25,000 cost for the insurance against third party liability for those being injured by the environmental hazards along the rail trail, many more towns by far have opted to proceed without that insurance due the the exceedingly low risk that the towns would ever have to indemnify the MBTA under the contractual obligations that the MBTA requires towns to accept as part of the 99 year lease of the right of way. Christian and I agree that the Medfield section probably is unlikely to have been heavily polluted with hazardous wastes, and that it is highly unlikely that a rail trail user would ever be harmed by hazardous waste while using the Medfield section of the Bay Colony Rail Trail. Therefore, if Medfield decides to forgo the insurance, Medfield could have its own section of the Bay Colony Rail Trail without cost if a future town meeting opts to proceed.