Friday, May 9, 2003
After lengthy debate, footpaths get a big yes
Supporters of the footpaths plan turned out in force for Town Meeting on Monday, overwhelmingly approving the Article and giving it more than the two-thirds vote it needed to succeed. Now the footpaths ballot question must pass at the voting booth next Tuesday, where a majority vote is needed to approve the project.
Representatives from the Planning Board, the Trails Committee, the Historical and Conservation Com-missions, and the League of Women Voters stood to say their groups voted to support the Article. "The old footpaths that once existed in the town center have grown over," said Historical Commission Chair Mary Ann Kitrosser. "Today's traffic has altered the center. The new footpaths will promote a slower, safer village environment."
Along with town boards, many in the audience expressed concerns about the safety of pedestrians on Carlisle's roads. "It's very difficult to walk around town," said parent Eileen Faber of Lowell Street. "If the paths save one life along the way, it's worth it." A 40-year resident of East Riding Drive said traffic has greatly increased since she has lived in town to the point where East Street is "very dangerous" to walk on today.
During the hour-long discussion some residents asked the Pedestrian
and Bike Safety Committee for more details of the plan. Ray Offenheiser
of Westford Road asked how the group will deal with wetlands along the
path routes. Committee member Art Milliken, who presented the article
together with member Tim Eliassen, said that boardwalks will likely
traverse soggy areas. Offenheiser also asked if the group will need
easements from all the homeowners along the proposed path routes. Milliken
replied that town rights-of-way would be determined by surveying, and
the group will work to negotiate an easement with a homeowner if the
path route runs across private property.
Comments remained civil at the meeting, though some differed on the project. Larry Bearfield of the Carlisle Committee for Tax Fairness said the citizens' group is not against pathways in the center, but opposes extending them down the major roads in town. Too much data is lacking about the footpath plan, he said, and the group is concerned with the cost of the project. Jayne Prats of River Road questioned the safety of the crosswalks proposed on the school loop path along Bedford Road. She also queried the cost of the project in the current economy, "Do we really need this, or would it be nice?"
The article asks for a total of $150,000 in funds to be used over five years to construct a school loop path in the town center and along Bedford Road, with further paths traveling from the center down parts of East and Concord Streets, and Lowell and Westford Roads. If approved at the polls, each year Selectmen will allocate the funds to proceed with the next section of pathway. The complete plan covers ten years but it is divided into two five-year parts at the recommendation of Selectmen who want the town to have a chance to see the progress of the paths before making a decision on the entire plan.
The paths will be for foot traffic and children's bikes only.
© 2003 The Carlisle Mosquito