Friday, September 12, 2008
BOS approve pathways extensions, rustic surface delayed until spring
With $110,000 left in funds allocated for pathways, Deb Belanger of the Pedestrian and Bike Safety Committee appeared before the Board of Selectmen (BOS) on September 9 to discuss priorities for adding to the list of pathways already planned. After reviewing a list of fourteen possible additions and improvements, the BOS picked out ten areas totaling an estimated $96,000. The rest of the funds will be held for contingencies. In addition, a decision was make to push off rustic chip sealing of the pathways surface in the Historical area and along Bedford Road until spring, when the surface can be applied with confidence it will set properly.
The greatest of the new expenses, and perhaps the most controversial, will be to extend the rustic surface to all pathways at an additional cost of $30,000. The original plan was to add the surface only to pathways within the Historic District and along Bedford Road. Belanger noted that at the Town Meeting at which funds were allocated, she had promised to extend the rustic surface to all pathways if funds were sufficient. “It’s clear we have sufficient funds, and I think we have a commitment to do it.”
However, the pathways committee has received feedback from several townspeople that they prefer the asphalt surface. “Some are used to the asphalt and don’t want the chip seal. Others can’t wait,” said Belanger. Tim Hult observed that “We should continue to do what we said we would do and put the chip seal on all the paths.” John Williams agreed, noting that while he wouldn’t care if the pathways were left as is, “if we advertise we’re going to do something, we should do it.”
Another suggestion was to pave the pathway from Church Street to the Gleason Library, which is now muddy and infested with poison ivy, at an expected cost of $7,000. Belanger noted the Council on Aging and Village Court have requested this work because seniors are finding it difficult to navigate a rutted dirt walkway. A concern was raised that paving could encourage skateboarders, but Belanger said a surface could be applied that would discourage this use. The Selectmen agreed this paving should receive a high priority.
Pathways to be extended
Other areas to receive funding include:
• $10,000 to extend the pathway from Concord Street to the Church Street crosswalk by the Castle playground.
• $3,000 to complete the pathway at the rotary from the ATM to School Street.
• $3,000 to finish the area from the library crosswalk to Ferns.
• $15,000 to extend the Bedford pathway to Stearns Street, consistent with a plan to connect the center to the first intersecting roads so as to join neighborhoods.
• $10,000 to begin the process of looking at a pathway along Westford Street.
• $1,000 to extend the pathway along Concord Street to the high school bus stop.
• $15,000 to extend the East Street pathway to the library crosswalk.
Some areas considered that will not be funded for now included extension of the School Street pathway to Bellows Hill at an estimated $50,000, a Westford Street pathway from Rockland Road to Monroe Hill for $117,000, or from Acton Street to Curve Street for $36,000.
“I know people will be disappointed,” said Belanger, but given the possibility of inclement weather this late in the year, Belanger recommended saving the chip seal rustic application on pathways in the Town Center and Bedford Road until spring. This surface can be problematic if improperly installed, she noted, and while many towns, including Concord and Acton, are happy with it, “others are taking it out and putting asphalt in.” A good installation should last 20 to 30 years. Alan Carpenito agreed the application should be deferred, “It’s more important the work is done well than quickly.”
© 2008 The