At its April 13 meeting, the Upper Charles Trail Committee (UCTC) should withdraw its Town Meeting request for $411,600 for engineering of Segments 5 and 6 of its proposed route. Segment 5 extends from Center Trail to Hayden Rowe Street. Segment 6 travels down the EMC Park driveway, behind Marathon School and the potential site for a new school, and ends at 147 Hayden Rowe. The UCTC plans to connect Segment 6 to a segment that runs along and across busy Hayden Rowe three times (Segment 7).
Upper Charles Trail does not belong on Hayden Rowe — Numerous residents have strongly opposed Segment 7 on the grounds that it is unsafe, crosses busy Hayden Rowe three times, requires property takings and/or an extremely costly and disruptive realignment of Hayden Rowe, and is not consistent with the existing recreation-focused, wooded trails of our town.
UCTC’s route creates other problems — The School Committee unanimously voted against Segment 6 because of safety concerns and the potential for a new school on land the UCTC intends to use for the trail. Upon construction of Segment 6, EMC Park, already overcrowded during warmer months with baseball and playground users (plus users of the soon-to-be-built skate park), becomes trailhead parking.
Cost of Segments 5 and 6 — According to UCTC submissions, the UCTC has requested $98,000 from the state and $42,000 at Town Meeting for preliminary engineering of Segment 6, and another $369,600 from Town Meeting for final engineering and bid documents for Segments 5 and 6 (totaling the $411,600 Town Meeting request). Segment 5 already has cost $199,227 for preliminary engineering. In short, the UCTC costs are estimated at over $700,000 for just engineering a 1.3-mile section of trail. For reference, the over 2 miles of stone dust trails in Hopkinton cost $343,000 total to build.
Alternative route available — The Trails Club presented the UCTC with a wooded, viable alternative route to the west of the Charlesview neighborhood that needs to be examined more fully. The Trails Club route eliminates the need for Segments 5, 6 and 7.
Next steps — Before making any funding requests at Town Meeting, the UCTC should first fulfill its stated charge of “gather[ing] input from as many Hopkinton residents as possible … [and] outline the community’s vision for the path and produce recommendations for the Select Board’s consideration that align with the aspirations of the community.”
— Katie Davenport, Hopkinton
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