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Trails Committee won’t get funds from town to create independent website

by | Mar 14, 2024 | News

Trails Committee chair Peter LaGoy announced at Wednesday night’s meeting that the committee was denied the use of town funds for its planned website, which would have been linked to the town’s webpage.

After trying to work with the town’s Information Technology Department multiple times on the creation of its webpage on the town website, the committee has discussed in recent meetings creating an independent website that would be linked to the town website.

Member Linda Chuss has been meeting with a website consultant who promised quick action on the project. At a previous meeting, she said all of the files the committee previously provided to the town were lost there and would have to be resubmitted. She planned to model the independent web page on the sites of the Sustainable Green Committee and the Hopkinton Area Land Trust. The cost was estimated at $3,500.

LaGoy had asked the Select Board to recommend that town funds be allocated for this project, as the Trails Committee has a budget. Since that time, he has met with Town Manager Norman Khumalo, Assistant Town Manager Elaine Lazarus and Director of Information Technology & Innovation Services Josh Grossetti.

Shared LaGoy: “The long and the short of it is they said, ‘No.’ ”

He added that because the town has its IT Department, “they did not see the need to hire an outside consultant to build a website for a trail group.”

LaGoy said the IT Department failed to complete the website after being requested twice by the committee to do so.

“It’s a little frustrating because Linda certainly put a lot of time into it,” he said, adding that Chuss will work with Grossetti on its development this round.

“She gave them information, and they put maps in the wrong place,” LaGoy said of the town’s previous attempt at creating a Trails Committee webpage. “The wrong links, the wrong name on the map.”

He called the process “a nightmare.”

LaGoy said he will present a list of criteria for the project and a timeline for completion. If these parameters are not met, committee members said they will revisit the issue with the town manager.

Issue with Upper Charles Trail Committee agenda discussed

The tension between the Trails Committee and the Upper Charles Trail Committee resurfaced when LaGoy pointed out an error on the UCTC’s agenda for its March 20 meeting.

LaGoy told the committee that the Select Board announced that the UCTC would be allowed to meet to discuss its charge and its plans for how it intends to evolve. Select Board member Irfan Nasrullah, the UCTC liaison, said he met with LaGoy and UCTC chair Jane Moran last week to discuss proposed changes to the UCTC charge that the Trails Committee previously drafted in response to a Select Board request.

In August 2023, the Select Board voted unanimously to keep the UCTC separate from the Trails Committee, but with changes in its charge and structure. The vote allowed the UCTC to resume after its meetings were suspended last May, but only for the limited purpose of preparing for a joint presentation to the Select Board and town officials with the Trails Committee. Due to a misunderstanding, the UCTC has not met since before the suspension.

LaGoy, as a private citizen, had authored a citizens’ petition supported by other residents calling for Khumalo to abolish the current UCTC and establish an Upper Charles Trail Subcommittee of the Trails Committee. The wording of this petition, which became Article 47 at the May 2023 Annual Town Meeting, was questioned by town counsel because Town Meeting doesn’t have the authority to direct the town manager’s actions in this regard. The article was deemed non-binding and advisory in nature, and it passed by a count of 158-61.

LaGoy pointed out that the March 20 UCTC meeting agenda states that the article “as put forward by Peter LaGoy and the Trails Coordination Committee.”

“We did not — once again — have anything to do with that petition,” he stressed. “I’ve said it at least five times.”

LaGoy said he would send a letter to the Select Board and Khumalo requesting that the wording be corrected.

“One hundred percent,” agreed member Fran DeYoung. “Probably all we can do is an education to some degree.”

‘Dogs on Trails?’ forum planned

Member Krisanne Connell said she has spoken with Amy Beck, the director of the Senior Center, about using the space for a Trails Committee forum in May. The committee is seeking community feedback about allowing dogs on trails, whether on specific trails or during specific times. The committee decided to title the forum “Dogs on Trails?” and provide information regarding the intent of the meeting.

This will be a brainstorming session where residents can contribute their ideas, Connell explained. LaGoy said the purpose of the forum is to “find a way to meet in the middle” between people who are staunchly against unleashed dogs and those who feel their dogs should have more freedom.

Once the date is confirmed, posters will be displayed in town buildings, businesses and on trails to generate interest.

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