The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 2, 2000


New pathway surface will be tested at tot lot

The pedestrian and bike safety committee recommended a new surface for town pathways and selectmen were willing to give it a try -- at least on a short pathway to the toddler playground.

The pedestrian and bike safety committee, represented by Deb Belanger and Kristine Bergenheim, requested $1,500 to build a 125-foot path from the handicapped parking space on Church Street to the entrance of the Diment Tot Lot. This would improve safety by allowing parents with strollers and/or young children to avoid walking in the street. Of the $2,500 needed for the pathway, $1,000 would be paid from the toddler committee fund.

Alluding to complaints about the asphalt surface of the existing Carlisle sidewalk, and claiming that "we're here to show the town what a nice-looking path would look like," Belanger introduced a relatively new surface material for the proposed pathway. Made of stone dust mixed with a stabilizer of organic psyllium, it provides a natural look while offering durability and low maintenance.

Dan Dattillo, chief ranger for the Minuteman National Park in Concord, and Paul Mastro, a contractor who has installed pathways of this type over the past four years, were on hand to lend support. According to Dattillo, this surface was chosen for the seven-mile Battle Road from Lexington to Concord because it was natural-looking, multi-purpose, environmentally safe and durable. The pathway, which receives 100,000 visitors per year, was installed in 1997 and "we're very happy with it," said Dattilio. All modes of transportation, from wheelchairs to bikes to feet are supported, and the park received an award for handicapped accessibility.

Questions from the selectmen centered on durability and maintenance cost. Belanger cited a park in Montreal where the surface has been installed for 12 years under severe weather conditions. "There is no cracking and heaving, as you would find with asphalt." Dattillo added that the Minuteman Park grounds crew was trained to maintain the pathway, but "so far, there's been very little work. Ninety percent of the path is in tip-top shape."

Examining aluminum containers filled with examples of the proposed surface, selectman Michael Fitzgerald asked for a comparison of installation cost of this surface versus asphalt. Upon hearing from Mastro that the cost might be double, Fitzgerald commented that he couldn't commit to this surface as a standard. "It fits with the town's character and the town's history, but it may not fit with the town's budget," he said.

"We're not comparing apples to apples," Belanger countered, claiming Carlisle sites would require extensive preparation and a crushed-stone surface on the asphalt for a natural look. Estimates she received for completed work in asphalt ranged from $50 to $100 per linear foot, compared to $45 for the psyllium-bound surface. Dattillo added that any additional up-front costs were more than made up by lower maintenance over time.

Agreeing that the tot lot path would be a good testing ground for the new surface, the selectmen voted to award $1,500 from the pathways fund for the proposed walkway. The board of selectmen created the bike and pedestrian pathways fund in September 1999 for the purpose of accepting gifts and donations for that purpose. There is currently an excess of $10,000 in the fund, contributed by developer Bill Costello.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito