Friday, January 23, 2009
Pathways Committee shorts, January 15
• Town Center. On January 15 the Pedestrian and Bike Safety Advisory (Pathways) Committee voted to approve a recommendation to the Selectmen and Town Common Circulation Committee regarding Town Common improvements. The Pathways Committee recommends that for maximum safety, an extension of the pathway on Concord Street be located on the Town Common side, at grade with the curbing and as close to the existing stone wall as possible.
In addition, the committee suggests that a pathway be constructed on School Street, extending from Church Street to Bedford Road, also on the Town Common side. This location was chosen to minimize crossing private drives and to facilitate pedestrian circulation between the Honor Roll memorial and flag.
Chair Deb Belanger hopes to see the Town Center path system completed by Old Home Day.
• Garden Club offer. Of the three small median triangles near the rotary, the median in Lowell Road near Ferns Country Store may soon be improved by the joint efforts of the Pathways Committee and the Garden Club. The median contains a green stripe, a painted pathway, which the committee would like to improve with a chip seal surface. They also plan to add a curb-cut to make it compliant with the American Disability Act.
Belanger said the Garden Club is interested in improving the appearance of the Town Center and is interested in perhaps adding some type of plantings to the median, if possible. Belanger later said that the committee and the Garden Club “would like to work together” but noted that the idea is still in the early stages and the matter will need to be discusssed with the Historical Commission.
• Westford Street path. The Pathways Committee discussed approaches to design a pathway on Westford Street. Unlike the pathways already constructed, Westford Street presents challenges that include a significant wetland crossing as well as a large slope, or grade change. Pathways Committee member Jack Troast acknowledged that engineering a path on “Westford Street will be more complicated than anything we’ve done before.”
The committee plans to meet first with Westford Street residents to gather feedback. Then a design firm will survey the section of road between Munroe Hill Road and the Towle Field parking lot to produce conceptual plans sufficiently detailed for financial estimates and to meet the requirements of the Conservation Commission. The committee discussed the importance of finding relative cost estimates for scenarios restricted to the public right-of-way versus allowing for private easements. Also necessary are cost estimates for filling in the right-of-way along the wetlands or building a boardwalk. They hope to produce a concept plan and be ready with construction designs at the next Town Meeting.
Belanger later noted that a small increase in cost would extend the Westford Street pathway from Rockland Road, as originally planned, all the way to Acton Street. The first section of the path from the Town Center to Rockland Road was built a few years ago, with plans to extend it from Rockland Road to the Towle Field parking lot. The committee now hopes to run the path beyond the parking lot entrance, to the other edge of Towle Field near Munroe Hill Road, where it will join with the new pathway constructed by the Hanover Hill developers. This will create a pathway reaching from the Town Center to Acton Street.
• Next steps. The committee’s next steps will be to produce a plan detailing how to spend the designated design funds, and to finish pathway construction in the Town Center before starting the Westford Street project. Chip seal is to be applied to the existing pathways in late spring or early summer once the weather is warm enough. Belanger notes that proper application of chip seal requires higher temperatures than asphalt.
The Pathways Committee does not intend to request additional funds from the Community Preservation Committee this year.
• Limited snow removal. Snow removal from pathways is provided by the DPW only within the Town Center. ∆
© 2009 The