The Upper Charles Trail Committee, at a special meeting Wednesday morning, voted unanimously to recommend that no action be taken on its Community Preservation Committee funding requests at the May 2 Annual Town Meeting.
The committee had requested CPC funding totaling $411,600 for Segments 5 and 6 of the campus trail connector, which would start at the end of the Center Trail on Loop Road, cross over Hayden Rowe Street and run behind Marathon School and across land where the schools hope to construct a new elementary school.
UCTC Chair Jane Moran said since the request originally was made, the committee has learned new information and continues to receive public input.
“We were in a very different place than we are in now,” she said.
There is a public workshop scheduled for this evening (5-8 p.m.) at the Hopkinton Senior Center. It also has a virtual option for those who cannot attend in person.
“They can ask all the questions they want, and hopefully we’ll be able to answer them,” Moran said, adding: “We are hoping to receive voluminous feedback. But again, this is all subject to change. We don’t have any idea where this is going to go.”
Left unsaid at Wednesday’s meeting was that there has been strong community opposition to the UCTC’s proposals to run the trail around Marathon School — the School Committee voted 5-0 not to support it — and have it run along Hayden Rowe Street (Route 85) and cross the busy road multiple times.
The members were in agreement that recommending no action was the right call.
“I think it makes a lot of sense to step back, give ourselves some time, and maybe replanning, whatever it takes to get everybody on board, the majority,” Barry Rosenbloom said.
“It has been an outpouring of commentary, and we need time to review it and put it all together and get it back to the community,” Eli Post added.
Eric Sonnett said waiting a year should make it clear that the committee is taking the time to hear residents’ opinions.
“It will give us an opportunity to upgrade our presentation at Town Meeting and be able to look people in the eye and say, ‘Yeah, we did everything we could to get your input and this is what we came up with,’ ” he said.
Added Ken Parker: “I consider it to be a very healthy thing that we’re getting all of this input now, so we’ll be in a much better position to move forward in the future.”
It’s good that the UCTC is taking a step back and listening. However:
– The UCTC still has a state grant request out for $98,000 (to be awarded in June and matched by town funds) for Segment 6; their vote doesn’t necessarily stop work on this segment. The Select Board should not allow this work to go forward.
– The UCTC has worked for over 5 years on the Hayden Rowe route without releasing the actual details to the town; only substantial pressure resulted in this change in approach. The Select Board need to ensure transparency .
– The UCTC met at 11 AM on a Wednesday. The fact that most members could easily attend suggests the membership may not mirror the demographics of future trail users; this should change.