Hopkinton, MA
Hopkinton, US
11:23 pm, Friday, September 22, 2023


Letter to the Editor: Why is trail project a hostile debate?

by | Jul 26, 2023 | Letter to Editor

The Hopkinton Upper Charles Trail Committee (UCTC) was created to provide leadership and oversight in planning, design and development of a multiuse trail connecting Milford to Ashland. The idea is to connect the towns via an off-road, 6-mile trail using old Hopkinton railroad tracks.

The tracks, however, were purchased by individuals. To create a connection between the towns, negotiations are required. Some property owners have been cooperative, some have not.

For 10 years the UCTC has conducted its business according to regulations and conventions used by other Hopkinton volunteer committees, and posted information on the Hopkinton town website.

The UCTC, working with our town engineer, has evaluated multiple sections of possible routes.

Management of Hopkinton trails was assigned to the Trail Coordination and Management Committee (TCMC).

Differences of opinion about trail route, surface and users developed between the UCTC and TCMC. Instead of hammering out those differences, a power play commenced.

Town counsel determined that a citizen petition to disband the UCTC was not valid. The Town Meeting vote for this petition was taken at midnight, and 158 voted yes while 61 voted no. I was embarrassed that night at Town Meeting for the shameful way our town volunteers were treated.

The Select Board created a survey to determine the type of trail citizens preferred. I’m not sure how residents knew about the survey, only open until July 2. I was unable to submit the survey online. The paper copy was not an exact copy of the online version. Survey responses (135) were small. Survey questions were biased.

Select Board decisions regarding the future of the UCTC may reflect the views of a very small number of Hopkinton residents.

The Select Board suspended the UCTC, which prevented UCTC members from answering criticism. They have been prevented from providing correct information and from identifying lies.

The Select Board allowed divisions to fester and explode by shirking management responsibilities. Our town manager is qualified to manage the conflict. Why has he been prevented from doing so?

Why do I care? Because I want a multiuse trail in Hopkinton. I want a safe route for bikers and others that connects us with the existing Upper Charles Trail in Milford/Holliston and the developing trail in Ashland. It could also connect us to the growing East Coast Greenway. If you care, please let the Select Board know (selectboard@hopkinton.gov).

— Sally Snyder, Hopkinton (former Select Board member and spouse of a current UCTC member)

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  1. Anonymous

    I believe the primary issue and resident pushback on this project relates to the inability of “using old Hopkinton railroad tracks”. As an FYI, railroad tracks do not cross Rt 85 4-5 times to get from place A to place B. These idiotic route proposals draw the ire of residents who question the sanity of the committee members and the rationality of the project. Route proposals such as these have the potentail to change the end result (a trail) from a blessing to a curse

    Over time, the area around Rt 85 has seen an explosion in the number of schools the area is burdened with, now more being planned. We do not wish for traffic to get worse, safety to be comprimised (as in the ludicrous “bike path” along West Main Street).

    Myself and many other residents are also “angry as hell” with Town Leaders, such as yourself and others, who have given us a Town that our children cannot afford to live in, our Seniors cannot afford to stay in and a financial situation that will have all residents seeing ever increasing taxes.

    STOP THE INSANITY. More is not always better and as a Town we need to live within our means. We certainly don’t need more spending for hiking trails, new schools (when the town is flush with empty commercial space), additional town buildings and such.

    Wait, why not just throw more money away on ENGINEERING STUDIES; maybe we can find a feasible way to get those railroad tracks to cross Rt 85 five times, then the trail can follow them!

  2. Anonymous

    Sally, many other also want a multi-use trail; however, they don’t want a route that will cross Rt 85, endanger peoples lives and create a traffic nightmare. They also don’t want a trail at the cost of putting residents into perpetual poverty paying for it.

    Like many of Hopkinton’s pet projects this will eventually go to Town Meeting which will be packed with its supporters. Let me digress on the entire concept of the Town Meeting. In the 1700’s and 1800’s when Hopkinton was a small, sleepy hamlet a Town Meeting was appropriate and the hallmark of a true democracy.

    In 2020 {per Wikipedia} Hopkinton had 16,758 residents of which 66.3% were over 20 years of age. This begs the question, if we ever attain our leaders hope of every adult resident attending and voting for articles at Town Meeting; WHERE WOULD YOU PUT THEM?

    Hopkinton is long overdue to allow mail-in (or on-line) voting for Town Meeting articles. If the US Mail is good enough for national elections, it should suffice for Hopkinton’s Town Meeting articles.

    Maybe then the Town leaders will have an opportunity to understand what the vast majority of residents really want. IMO, no more frivilous and expensive town projects, wasteful spending and ever increasing taxes. A town we can be proud of as opposed to a destination for modern carpet-baggers to move thru such that others can pay to educate their children and surround their families with the various trappings they want other people to pay for. Then make a quick exit from Town leaving the long-term residents to be saddled with endless debt.

  3. Sally Snyder

    The Upper Charles Committee (UCTC) has not proposed any trail route. They are exploring options in order to find the optimal route.

  4. Jim Ciriello

    Great question. The answer is personal. That is, the battle started and propagated by ‘anonymous’ and his (oops) followers are using the option of a Hayden Rowe Street segment as a veil to cover their personal reasons for their assault on the UCTC. The UCTC had to explore the HR option because it is in their charge to identify and evaluate all options for an Upper Charles Trail. The UCTC has not yet selected or recommended any potential trail segments . The UCTC evaluated the option of going around Charlesview and due to private property access issues it was not a viable option. The residents of Charlesview are also overwhelmingly opposed to any trail through their neighborhood. Should Charlesview residents rise and demand that the TCMC be shamed and disbanded because the TCMC and anonymous aren’t hearing their opposition? I think it’s time. Nothing has prevented anonymous and the TCMC from evaluating their “western alternative”. Certainly the UCTC has not stood on their way. ~ Jim Cirlello, not Anonymous.

  5. Jim Ciriello

    How does the TCMC propose to cross Route 85 from the Milford town line? Is it a ‘no-cost’ pedestrian bridge? Will the town buy or get an easement on and through private property on the westerly side of Route 85 needed to build a bridge and connect Route 85 to the Echo Trail? Does the TCMC have any intention of ever connecting the Echo Trail to Milford?

    In the likely event that the TCMC reaffirm that their “western alternative” around or through the Charlesview neighborhood is not viable, what alternative(s) does TCMC propose to to connect the Hughes property to Berry Acres?

    The UCTC has already completed substantial work on evaluating alternative segments over the entire conceptual UCT routes. The TCMC would be duplicating the UCTC’s work to get to the same result. How can that possibly be efficient, cost-effective and sensible?

    Perhaps, the TCMC has no intention of evaluating or building an UCT through Hopkinton. If true, then say so. Ultimately, the SB and town meeting voters would have to vote against developing an UCT through Hopkinton.

    The TCMC has had the luxury of developing trails only on town-owned properties. Because town-owned property is not available for the entirety of any conceptual UCT route, the UCTC had to identify and evaluate the viability of trail segments through many private properties. The UCTC has discussed acquisition of properties or easements with all private property owners along the conceptual routes.

  6. Peter LaGoy

    The town has listened to what the UCTC has presented, and voted overwhelmingly to request the Select Board move in a different direction. Happens in business all the time. Costs, as implied by the two anonymous comments, are certainly a consideration, as is safety.

    I would note that I have never, and will never, respond anonymously but I respect the right of others to do so.

    • Anonymous

      People write as “Anonymous” as they have witnessed the recent debacle seen in the School Board campaign and election. If you recall, a long-term resident, clearly supported by a local political party, totally dragged a fine resident and office seeker through the mud.

      Threats, lies, distortions of the truth and shear ugliness, all because a women with children in our schools wanted to run for local office and help improve the schools. All to elect a newcomer to town with no children in the schools, with multiple DWI’s and an incarceration. I may have missed it but I don’t recall seeing this School Board member resign (or be recalled) or an apology from the Hopkinton Democratic Party. BIGLY SAD

      I’ll be anonymous until such time that I believe Hopkinton again becomes a safe place to live in. I do not want myself or my family to become the target of the ugliness in this Town or go thru what the Fogg family had to endure.

      • Mary Jo Ondrechen

        The individual who posted anonymously, about the prior election, acted alone and without the support of the Hopkinton Democratic Town Committee (HDTC). In fact, those actions were against the written policy of the HDTC regarding positive campaigns and refraining from personal attacks. When those actions came to light, the HDTC officers immediately accepted that person’s resignation. The two candidates who won the election for School Committee are highly qualified and very knowledgeable. Neither has been incarcerated. Finally, it is mean spirited to malign a neighbor who successfully recovered from substance abuse over six years ago.


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