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Trails Committee makes strides on proposed Chamberlain-Whalen trail, website

by | Jan 18, 2024 | Featured: News, News

The Trails Committee at its hybrid meeting Thursday night announced significant strides on several of its initiatives, including trail development at the Chamberlain-Whalen subdivision and the creation of its website.

Member Chuck Dauchy shared the “pending but very positive” news that Paul Mastroianni, the developer of the Chamberlain-Whalen subdivision, has agreed to fund the construction of “a major part of the trail system” on the property.

He explained that the proposed route would connect the southern end of the Center Trail to the new Chamberlain trail extension. It also will connect to a proposed trail that has been contracted separately near Field 11 off Loop Road that will extend to the Chamberlain cul-de-sac area. The trail will be between 6 and 8 feet wide.

“When it’s done, we hope it will look like an old woods road or a cart path,” Dauchy said.

The Conservation Commission approved the proposed route, which will involve “minimal clearing” and include two boardwalks, according to Dauchy. He noted that Mastroianni has donated approximately 40 acres to the town to be used as open space, even though he was not required by the town to do so.

While a contractor will perform the major work, the boardwalks can be constructed by volunteers.

“This is just a good example of working closely with a developer,” said chair Peter LaGoy. “We’ve had interactions that are working well for both parties.”

Dauchy also spoke about the separate trail development project near Field 11 at Loop Road. A notice of intent will be filed with the Conservation Commission shortly because of a “substantial bridge” over a stream crossing that will have a span of 22 feet. Construction should begin in the spring.

Website development moves forward, domain name chosen

Member Linda Chuss, who has been spearheading the effort to create an independent website for the Trails Committee, reported that she spoke with the website developer about an updated contract. The website will cost approximately $3,000 to develop, and there will be an annual maintenance fee of $820. There may be an additional cost if there is extensive file conversion involved. The board voted 5-0 to accept the proposal and allocate up to $4,000 for these expenditures.

Members briefly discussed website names and unanimously agreed upon HopTrails.org. The website will be linked to the town website. Chuss noted that it aligns with the Sustainable Green Committee’s independent website called HopGreen.org.

Committee members will compile a list of trails, maps and pictures to include on the website. Information on the website will include keyword indicators relating to the length and difficulty of trails and trail systems.

Member Janine LeBlanc said that trails under development should be included on the website to generate interest and  public engagement.

2024 priorities outlined

Committee members agreed that their two main areas of focus for trail improvement this year will be Legacy Farms South and Berry Acres because of the concentration of people in those areas.

LaGoy noted that at Legacy Farms South, the current trails don’t appear to be widely used by the largely southeast Asian population because they are covered with grass. To be more inclusive, he suggested stone dust surfacing, which also would help people with mobility impairments.

Dauchy noted that beavers have been flooding the lower section of the trail at Berry Acres, which has been compounded by the inclement weather. While the trail is walkable, the flooding makes it “a little dicey.” The topography also can be challenging.

“Work there is important,” he stressed, “at least to connect the existing trail connects from the shortest route to the apartment complex to West Main [Street].”

He and LaGoy discussed having a trail away from the flooded area and leaving the current route for those who prefer more rugged terrain. This new eastern trail potentially could be a Scout project.

Dauchy and LaGoy also noted that the bridge at the Berry Acres trail was replaced during the volunteer workday earlier this month.

These goals will be included in the committee’s upcoming annual report. Website and signage development also will be included.

Member Krisanne Connell spoke about continuing the Trails Committee’s focus on family events, such as the partnership with the Hopkinton Public Library. Having a half-day hike involving older kids at Whitehall was another idea. Another suggestion included potentially partnering with the New England Mountain Bike Association for a beginner’s riding event and a gathering at the pavilion at Hopkinton State Park.

Forum on off-leash dogs discussed

The committee discussed the upcoming forum on etiquette for people who bring their dogs to the trails and let them off their leash, an issue that has been a concern raised at previous meetings. The town has a leash law. The forum seeks to gain different perspectives about this issue.

Connell presented the idea of “participatory planning” so residents feel invested in the process. After an introduction by a facilitator, attendees can break into small groups to share their ideas over a map of the trails. Sticky notes from participants could be gathered on a wall to identify common themes. From those, the top two reasons for and against off-leash dogs would be brainstormed to find some consensus, which the Trails Committee would then take into consideration.

LaGoy mentioned that people could discuss their opinions on having dogs off leash on a certain trail or during specific days or hours.


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