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Letter to the Editor: Public input sought on trails

by | Nov 28, 2021 | Letter to Editor

I am a member of the Hopkinton Trails Club. Since forming in 2005, we’ve developed major trails (including the Center Trail), assisted in the creation of the town’s Trail Coordination & Management Committee, and led over 130 walks to introduce the town’s trails to its residents.

On Wednesday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m., Hopkinton’s Upper Charles Trail Committee (UCTC) will hold a public meeting at the Senior Center to present its proposal for the Upper Charles Trail route through Hopkinton. Many Hopkinton residents are familiar with the trail’s path in Milford and Holliston, and on our walks we often have folks ask if Hopkinton will connect to it. That’s a telling question, because it means that the work of Hopkinton’s committee, which was formed in August 2012, is not well known. Only preliminary proposals have been released previously (displays at Polyarts, for example). This will be the first formal opportunity for residents to see the plans and comment.

For residents who remember the first Elementary School Building Committee, this might sound familiar. That group did its work within its own committee meetings, then presented a plan for three district schools at Town Meeting. The town’s reaction was overwhelmingly negative and it was soundly voted down. A new committee was formed and followed a much more open and participatory approach. The result was the widely admired Marathon School.

The UCTC recently made its proposal public. The Trails Club has been reviewing it, and we have concerns. It crosses Hayden Rowe Street several times, requiring traffic to stop multiple times in that section when the trail is in use. The route also passes along the edge of the Marathon School property and near town land that might be used for an Elmwood School replacement. The superintendent of schools raised concerns about this at a recent School Committee meeting.

Admittedly, UCTC members have had a difficult task and they’ve done their best to come up with a solution. But there ARE other options for the route. To be sure, those options have their own issues, but they should be presented and residents given the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of each approach.

Both the UCTC’s proposed route and an alternative route may be viewed on the Trails Club’s website (hopkintontrailsclub.com). We encourage town residents to review both and then attend the meeting on Dec. 8 at the Senior Center.

— John Ritz, Hopkinton

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