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Letter to the Editor: New direction needed for UCTC

by | Feb 13, 2023 | Letter to Editor

At the Feb. 2 Upper Charles Trails Committee meeting, the UCTC chair made an opening statement about two citizens’ petitions seeking articles on the Annual Town Meeting warrant targeting the UCTC and its future work. As it relates to petition organizers and the timing of the petitions, the chair rhetorically asked, “What’s the rush?”

I’d offer this explanation: First, there is no rush. The UCTC was organized in 2012. Ten years later, not one yard of trail has been built. I’ve been patient for 10 years. My patience is wearing thin.

I am also wondering just how much more taxpayer money the UCTC will spend for engineering segments that will never be built? Let me explain. The UCTC’s proposed Segment 7 runs along Hayden Rowe and crosses it three times in just under three-quarters of a mile from the EMC Park entrance to Granite Street. When initially proposed at a public input session in December 2021, Segment 7 was overwhelmingly opposed by most of the 70 residents in attendance. In the past year, the town has surveyed the impacted area of Hayden Rowe and concluded the trail cannot be built within the town’s right of way without either a major street relocation or property takings from homeowners along Hayden Rowe. I don’t believe either will happen, which means Segment 7 cannot be built.

That hasn’t stopped or slowed down the UCTC from spending $199,000 on engineering Segment 5 from Center Trail to Hayden Rowe and $140,000 on engineering Segment 6 from the EMC Park entrance around Marathon School and back out to Hayden Rowe. Segment 6 was unanimously opposed by the School Committee in January 2022 when the UCTC presented its route plan. The sole purpose of Segments 5 and 6 is to connect Center Trail to Segment 7, which is not likely to be built. So, did the UCTC just waste $339,000 of taxpayer money engineering a trail to nowhere?

Since the UCTC’s proposed route was made public nearly 14 months ago, I and others of like mind have lobbied the UCTC and the Select Board to stop spending public funds to engineer the controversial segments and to explore other options. All to no avail. So, what’s the rush? No rush here, just trying to get your attention, UCTC. You’ll have another opportunity to hear that residents don’t support your plan at Town Meeting.

— Steve Frohbieter, Hopkinton

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