On Feb. 2, the Hopkinton Independent reported on the Upper Charles Trail Committee (UCTC) meeting regarding discussion of two citizens’ petitions for Town Meeting articles. One article would reorganize the committee under the umbrella of the town’s Trails Coordination and Management Committee (TCMC), and the other would prohibit future spending on a trail along and crossing Hayden Rowe between Nos. 147 and 192. Regarding the petitions, the UCTC chair rhetorically asked, “What is the rush?” As one who signed the petitions, I ask, WHAT WAS THE RUSH to spend $140,000 of local and state taxpayers’ money for preliminary design of a trail around Marathon School and adjacent town land that will only lead to a route along and crossing Hayden Rowe. The School Committee had voted not to support the route around the school, and the Hayden Rowe route has met with overwhelming public resistance due to safety concerns and impact on private yards and driveways. The proposed articles now seem the only recourse to stop this runaway train.
In December 2021, the UCTC held a public meeting about its proposed routes — including that along Hayden Rowe, which crosses the road three times, goes along the roadside for 2,400 feet, crosses approximately 15 driveways, and crosses either Chestnut Street or Teresa Road. Comments at the meeting were overwhelmingly against the Hayden Rowe route. Despite public opinion and the School Committee’s negative vote (Jan. 13, 2022), in February the UCTC applied for a state grant with town matching funds for preliminary design of the route around the Marathon School that would only make sense if the trail continues down Hayden Rowe.
In April 2022, the UCTC held a public “workshop” where participants could indicate whether they “like” or “dislike” various alternative routes. The route along Hayden Rowe received 23 dislikes and zero likes. The Marathon School route received 11 dislikes and six likes. An alternative route through wooded areas west of the Charlesview neighborhood received two dislikes and 17 likes. Despite having this information on public preferences, the UCTC proceeded to accept and expend the grant.
The UCTC has a difficult job, but it needs to focus on routes where more feasibility study is needed and there is likely public support, rather than wasting more money on a route the public does not want. The TCMC has the broader perspective to oversee the UCTC’s work.
— Chuck Dauchy, Hopkinton
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