The Hopkinton Upper Charles Trail Committee is looking for approval from the Hopkinton Public Schools to move forward on a project that would connect the bike paths of Milford and Ashland with a seven-mile trail in Hopkinton.
UCTC chair Jane Moran presented at the April 25 School Committee meeting, asking for the School Committee to consider a request for the trail to cross school property.
The UCTC has been working for the past six years on this project and recently received a feasibility study from an engineering consultant with the best layout for the trail.
“They have presented multiple options. Each option provides their own set of challenges,” Moran said.
The proposed trail would cross Hayden Rowe several times, per Moran, and would arrive at the Marathon School and connect to the Center School.
Timing is now of the essence, as the UCTC has just been made aware that it could apply for a Massachusetts Trail grant that could pay for the formal engineering study, an expense of between $40,000 and $60,000, and then could apply for a Massachusetts TIP grant, which could pay for the actual construction of the trail from Hayden Rowe through the school complex, a price tag of around $1.6 million, per Moran.
“There is a lot of money on the table,” she said.
There were a number of options for the placement of the bike trail throughout town that would connect the Milford Bike Trail to the Center Trail, but the one being proposed is the more desirable avenue, Moran said.
In order to move forward with even applying for the grant, the UCTC needs to gain approval from 10-12 property owners that the trail would cross, including the School Committee, before bringing it to the Board of Selectmen for ultimate approval.
“This is just one more step in the process to gaining our ultimate goal, which is a ways down the road,” Moran said.
If the School Committee agreed, plans to do the engineering study would move quickly, with wetlands observations and soil testing to be done at the site.
While mainly expressing approval for a trail, several School Committee members commented on their concerns with safety of the students on school grounds.
“If we were to get that far into the process, those subjects would be brought up in public meetings. … I am sure those conversations would happen,” Moran said.
Before giving permission, the School Committee members decided to schedule a site walk where the trail is proposed to cross into school grounds. The proposal from the UCTC then will be brought back for a vote at a future meeting.