At Wednesday’s Upper Charles Trail Committee meeting, the committee talked about plans for next Wednesday’s public forum and continued to hear from residents opposed to running a section of the trail along Hayden Rowe Street.
“Please, please don’t run the trail along Route 85,” resident Mary Jo Ondrechen said during the public comment portion of the meeting, referring to the oft-criticized proposal to run the trail down Hayden Rowe Street. “You go to the trail to be in the woods, not to walk along on a busy street. … I’d like to see the trail going behind the houses, not in front of the houses, crossing driveways. It’s not safe. And it’s not the trail experience that one wants when one goes to the trails.”
College Street resident Wayne Eddy, whose property abuts Hayden Rowe Street, said he was “extremely opposed” to having the trail be located there.
“The proposed trail would eliminate every bit of privacy we have in our backyard,” he said.
Hayden Rowe Street resident Scott Knous, organizer of the newly formed advocacy group Hopkinton for a Safe Upper Charles Trail, which has come out against the Hayden Rowe proposal, introduced himself and said he looked forward to working with the UCTC. He was invited to return at a future meeting for a more detailed discussion about what his group is doing.
Resident Amy Groves asked what would be the impact if funding for the segment proposed to run behind Marathon School was voted down at Town Meeting this May. UCTC Chair Jane Moran responded, “Not much, really, because we would just continue to do our intake and continue to do our research and continue to answer all of the comments that we get from our public workshop.”
The public workshop is scheduled for Wednesday, April 13, from 5-8 p.m. at the Hopkinton Senior Center.
Information from the workshop will be made available for those who cannot attend, and documents about the project are posted at the town’s website (hopkintonma.gov) as well.
Moran said she hopes next Wednesday’s session will answer residents’ questions about the process.
“We work with the facts,” she said. “What is the safest? Where can we go that is most acceptable to the folks of Hopkinton? And we continue to take in information. We continue to gather the facts. We hope at our meeting that folks will take this and look at our maps and have questions.”
Added Moran: “The other thing I would like to stress, I know there’s been a ton of conversation about this very small section of Hayden Rowe. But I would just like to remind people, this is a very long, about a 7- or 8-mile trail that we have been busy working on, all the way from Milford all the way up to Hopkinton State Park. So it really encompasses potentially not only the interests of our total citizenry, but especially East Hopkinton, where a lot of these parts of the trails could impact neighborhoods. And we really are looking forward to everybody participating who is interested.”
UCTC Member Ken Parker said the fact that there is a vote at next month’s Town Meeting about using Community Preservation Committee (CPC) funding for two proposed segments — including the controversial segment behind Marathon School — suggests that the committee is not as open to public input as is being suggested, as residents very soon will be forced to make a decision about a proposal the committee already has made.
Town Manager Norman Khumalo said this is part of the process, and changes still can be implemented.
“It is not uncommon for committees to bring ideas that are still under consideration as potential actions for Town Meeting,” Khumalo said. “When that happens, as the process moves forward preparing for Town Meeting, there are decisions made to take action or take no action. So the idea to tell the public that people are being forced I think is unfair. There will be decisions made between now and Town Meeting on what actions need to be taken.”
Moran said the committee would meet just before Town Meeting and could decide then not to request the CPC funding at this time.