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Trails Committee prioritizes bridge repair work at Berry Acres Trail

by | Dec 14, 2023 | Featured: News, News

The Trails Committee at its meeting Wednesday night prioritized maintenance of the Berry Acres Trail due to the recent rains that caused flooding and debris to accumulate.

Chair Peter LaGoy noted that the two projects proposed by Scouts in September are “progressing along.” The pedestrian bridge at the Berry Acres Trail “is built from the Scout’s perspective.”

Eagle Scout Ethan Davan proposed the construction of the 30-foot bridge to both the Trails Committee and the Conservation Commission with the goal of helping people cross “a beaver-flooded area.”

“There are still sort of wet areas on both sides of it,” LaGoy explained. “You need a bridge to get to the bridge.”

He added that the apartment complex there would benefit from access to the bridge, which would connect residents to other parts of the trail system.

Member Chuck Dauchy noted that recent rains have exacerbated flooding in that area. Debris had piled up on an old bridge near the apartment complex, which he worked to clear.

The fitness equipment proposed by Scout Srivar Yerramsetti to be placed off of Center Trail just north of the Loop Road intersection has been ordered, said LaGoy. There will be a sit-up bench, pull-up bars, horizontal bars and a balance beam installed in a 30-foot-by-24-foot area. LaGoy, Yerramsetti and volunteer Scouts recently marked the area.

LaGoy added that he spoke with Commission on Disability vice chair Alex Danahy about a wood chip trail to the exercise trail. Danahy told him that stone dust would be preferred because of accessibility issues.

Fruit Street bridge needs to be replaced

Dauchy noted that the Fruit Street area also experienced some flooding that has begun to subside. He described the trail connection to Pratt Farm as “the messiest.” While there is a 10-foot bridge there, Dauchy noted that beaver activity raised the water table “at least 2 feet” since the bridge was constructed.

The bridge will need to be replaced with one that has a longer span, he added. An issue right now is getting sufficient deck boards.

LaGoy suggested that local contractors be hired with money from the committee’s budget to speed up the construction process on this and other projects. He noted that $5,000 in Community Preservation Commission funding for lumber had been approved at Annual Town Meeting last year for use at locations at Berry Acres and Legacy South.

Member Linda Chuss suggested that students at vocational technical schools might be interested in taking on bridge or boardwalk work as a project.

Dauchy said the Berry Acres area is a “high priority.” He mentioned that the bridge deck boards at the northeastern trail access point “are in pretty bad shape,” with some of them broken.

He suggested that the bridge be moved, with the angle changed upstream to prevent water from flowing over it during storms.

Added Dauchy” “It’s almost a safety hazard.”

Website development discussed

Chuss presented a preliminary draft of a website home page. She will be working on the website with vendor  Lewis Studios, which also created the website for the Hopkinton Area Land Trust (HALT) and will be working with the Open Space Preservation Commission. The Trails Committee website would be separate from the town website.

The draft included a map that showed the location of all trails in town. Menu items included trail rules and safety, related resources and an area for news links. A contact page would allow people to seek more information about the trails, report issues or sign up for volunteer activities.

There will be maps to all town trails with popups that include links to directions and trail specifications. Parking information was suggested by member Janine LeBlanc. Other issues included the difficulty level, appropriateness for kids, and accessibility of the trails.

The website development cost would be about $3,000, Chuss explained. Annual website maintenance would be about $1,000 to prevent against viruses and other technical issues.

Dog owner education forum pushed back until March

The committee voted 5-0 to push back its proposed forum on dog owner education and etiquette from January to March.

Chuss noted that there is no urgency to propose an article on the topic for May’s Annual Town Meeting. The extra time could be used for an additional forum seeking public feedback as well as to research whether a trial period could be used for having dogs unleashed on specific trails for limited amounts of time.

LeBlanc noted that the town has a leash law, so a trial period may not be a feasible suggestion. LaGoy countered that the dog park already is in violation of the leash law by allowing dogs to run free.

Signage concept receives enthusiastic response

Chuss brought up the need for more visible and uniform trail signage to make people aware of where the trails are. She stressed that there should be signage perpendicular to roads that would direct people to trails, as well as clearly visible signage at trailheads.

Member Krisanne Connell embraced the idea, saying it would bolster Hopkinton’s recognition as “a trail haven.”

“It’s such a simple thing,” she said of the signage. “But it’s the best way to reach a broader group of people.”

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