The Upper Charles Trails Committee (UCTC) at its hour-long meeting Wednesday night discussed the group’s recent activities, including the submission of a request for funding to the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) for Segment 1 of the Upper Charles Trail.
The committee has been working on a plan that will eventually connect Hopkinton to Milford and Ashland when complete.
Peter LaGoy, chair of Hopkinton’s Trails Coordination and Management Committee (TCMC), continued to question the spending of MassTrails grant funding for an engineering study of Segment 6 of the trail, which has been proposed to go around Marathon School.
“There’s a question to whether the trail will ever even go by that area,” he said, calling the location “certainly controversial.” There has been some public pushback on this segment of the trail because it would link to other proposed segments that would cross busy Hayden Rowe Street at three locations.
He proposed that the amount for that study be capped at the same amount that has been requested for Segment 1 — $48,000.
The Segment 1 study would focus on the area from the State Park through Legacy Farms North.
“It would seem to me that you wouldn’t do any more detailed analysis of this Segment 6, which may never happen, than you would on Segment 1, which seems to be a segment that people are generally in agreement on,” LaGoy said.
However, UCTC Chair Jane Moran explained at the last meeting the $128,000 in grant funding had been allocated for that purpose to see if a trail there would be feasible.
“We have talked at length about this, and it keeps coming up,” she said.
Dave Daltorio, the town engineer and facilities director, said he would research the two proposals and report back to the committee at its next meeting. Some factors for the different price could include the scope of the work, difference in length and prior knowledge of the area, He said Segment 1 is “set pretty much already” as far as location, whereas the Segment 6 study is focusing on different alternatives.
He noted that a list of nine frequently asked questions about the UCTC, most regarding Segment 6, can be found on the town website. Another list unrelated to those questions has been compiled, with 36 already answered and the remaining 13 that should be completed by the next meeting. After that, the data will be available on the website in a folder, according to Daltorio.
Member Eric Sonnett noted that the CPC has allowed proposals to be submitted in October if they involved land acquisition.
“That went real well, except that three committees have submitted late projects, of which we’re one of the committees,” he said. The CPC had a discussion and allowed them to be considered at Thursday’s meeting. He said he did not believe that the practice of allowing late submissions will continue in the future.
SUBHED: Inclusive language proposed for trails
Moran and alternate UCTC member Jamie Wronka said they had been discussing the most appropriate language that would promote inclusivity for people with disabilities for trail references.
“There’s a ton of great resources out there as far as finding ways to utilize words that can be inclusive and not disparaging to people,” Wronka said. “And so it is recommended not to use ‘special needs’ or ‘handicapped’ or ‘afflicted by’ or ‘suffers from.’ The hope of the committee is to create trails that are accessible for all ages and all abilities.”
She added that “some of the sugarcoating and trying to dance around terms can actually be really uncomfortable for folks who actually have disabilities.”
Said Moran: “I really find that that’s really comfortable.”
Working group updated
Treasurer Scott Knous reported that he is working on two PowerPoint presentations to use when performing outreach. He had requested individual feedback from committee members via email, which he said he hopes to receive before Thanksgiving.
Members debated the pros and cons of communicating individually by email and discussing items in a group dynamic. While they agreed that both strategies are effective, Knous was looking for information via email before the next meeting.
Knous also said that the town’s Information Technology Department is reaching out to committees and boards so that they can have individual spaces on the town website, which is in the process of being redesigned. He volunteered to complete a basic framework for the committee.
Sidewalk issue raised
Moran noted that the Planning Board, of which she is a member, recently submitted a warrant article to construct sidewalks to improve accessibility because it would be a capital project.
Knous noted that a sidewalk is needed near the CVS. Middle school students congregate there between 3-3:30 and then walk through people’s yards because there is no sidewalk, he said.
Now that it’s dark, you almost hit these people,” he said, noting the importance of sidewalks for safety.