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Letter to the Editor: Why the UCTC should be replaced

by | Apr 10, 2023 | Letter to Editor

Article 47 on this year’s Town Meeting warrant asks the town to replace the current Upper Charles Trail Committee (UCTC) with a subcommittee of the town’s umbrella trail organization, the Trails Coordination and Management Committee. The reason for this request is simple; the UCTC continues to ignore broad public input and concerns, especially about the safety of siting a paved multi-use path along busy Hayden Rowe Street. The UCTC instead relies exclusively on a high-priced, urban/highway-focused consultant making recommendations inappropriate for a town like Hopkinton (as witnessed by the current Main Street bike path debacle, also its product).

Many of the citizens offering this petition have worked on town committees and are aware of the work involved and do not take this petition lightly. We are aware that dissenting views, and a healthy give-and-take, are part of the process of developing the best outcome for the town. However, having followed the UCTC for the past 6-7 years, and in particular over the last two years, we see a committee that is not listening to or responsive to the public. We see a committee overly reliant on an engineering firm that is focused on urban commuter bike paths. In short, we see a committee that will not produce the best product for Hopkinton nor its residents.

Hopkinton has seen this situation before. In 2011, a school building committee, tasked with developing a replacement for Center School, offered the town the districted Fruit Street Elementary School. This proposed school was decisively voted down, 70-30 percent, at the ballot. Despite that clear loss, at its next meeting committee members started by discussing how to change minds. Fortunately, two Select Board members stepped up and dissuaded them. A new committee was formed that initially focused on public concerns, and Marathon School was completed.

We have an analogous situation here. The UCTC continues to spend taxpayer money toward building a paved trail down Hayden Rowe, despite public and School Committee input against this proposal. The UCTC largely ignored a proposed alternative path through the woods, despite some UCTC members asking for a debrief, and general public support. The UCTC also ignored strong public sentiment expressed in response to a UCTC survey. A change is needed. That change should also include having only a single town trails committee to eliminate confusion and to facilitate public interaction on trails.

— Peter LaGoy, Hopkinton

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