Friday, September 3, 1999
New trust fund for pathways
Townspeople will now have a tax-deductible way to contribute to the progress of pathways through town, and subdivision developers may also provide a link in the chain. The selectmen voted at their August 24 meeting to create a trust fund on behalf of the bicycle and pedestrian safety committee for the purpose of funding public relations, studies, design and construction projects that would help meet the committee's goal of making Carlisle a safe, walkable community.
According to Kristine Bergenheim, secretary to the committee, contributions to the trust would come from several sources. "We plan to work with the planning board to request that developers who have sidewalk requirements waived be required to put 95 percent of the sidewalk costs that would have been spent into this trust. Also we plan to create a direct mail campaign in the town of Carlisle, asking for individual tax-deductible contributions."
The committee hopes to raise between $20,000 and $25,000 to pay for a master footpath plan feasibility study, said Bergenheim. The feasibility plan would determine rights of way, deal with wetland and other environmental issues and prioritize conceptual plans so that the master footpath plan can be accomplished in phases. The master plan anticipates one to four miles of footpaths emanating from the town center along each of the five major roadsBedford Road, East, Westford, Concord and Lowell Streets. The committee hopes to achieve this goal over a period of five to ten years.
Selectman Vivian Chaput noted that the trust is similar to other trust funds set up for town purposes. "Donations go through the town clerk and are tax deductible," said Chaput.
Board chair Doug Stevenson questioned the committee's plan to require developers to donate funds equivalent to sidewalk costs. "I wonder whether we are setting up a situation where we are competing with the planning board's negotiating points," said Stevenson. Chaput argued that the planning board rules and regulations require sidewalks in all subdivisions and while sometimes they are needed, elsewhere they do not make sense. In the latter case, said Chaput, "Generally, there is no quid pro quo," and the town merely loses the opportunity to extract compensation from the developer for not putting in sidewalks. Chaput cited the Maple Street Pine Meadows subdivision as an example. Fitzgerald questioned whether the worth of the foregone sidewalks should be returned to the development or be used to benefit the town in general through pathway construction elsewhere.
The board concluded that the pathways committee should discuss this option further with the planning board. Chaput also suggested to Bergenheim that, like the trails committee, someone on the pathways committee should attend all planning board hearings in which new subdivisions are discussed. Said Chaput, "Someone needs to stand up and say, 'Remember bike paths.'"
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito