Friday, May 22, 2009
Pathways near completion
After a one-year delay, the Phase 1 project to add pathways throughout the Town Center, approved at Town Meeting 2007, is cleared for completion, says Pathways Committee Chair Deb Belanger. With final board approvals in hand, construction can begin this week on the Church Street section, which is expected to be finished by the end of June.
“All approvals were in place last August,” says Belanger, but the project could not proceed because of a homeowner’s easement refusal. Church Street extends onto private land, and without the needed easement, the pathway could not follow along. Moving the pathway outside a stone wall, however, meant narrowing Church Street to a degree that would have caused the road to lose its two-way status.
But the First Religious Society (FRS) rode to the rescue, offering to contribute a thin edge of the Town Common to allow Church Street to remain two-way. The FRS noted a desire that two-way access be retained around the Town Common, that pathways move ahead as quickly as possible, and that parking on the Common grass be discouraged. The last will be accomplished by adding a vertical curb. “To keep the two-way pattern around the Common is in the best interests of everybody,” says Belanger, noting that quick access by police and fire to the school was a prime consideration.
The FRS concession allowed the Pathways Committee to recently return to the Selectmen and the Historical Commission with a plan very similar to the one agreed to last August. Both bodies approved; however, the Historical Commission asked the Pathways Committee to consider a last-minute request by abutters Sylvia Sillers and Jack O’Connor that the pathway be moved away from their houses by paving a wider strip of the Common on the other side.
The Pathways Committee consulted with engineers Stamski and McNary, but “to go back and reengineer for an additional foot was determined not to be a sufficient benefit,” says Belanger. She notes the proposed plan had been fully reviewed for pedestrian and traffic safety, drainage, and other issues, work that would have had to be redone with a new pathway placement. She adds, “It just didn’t merit the additional cost and time.”
Belanger notes that, in addition to completion of the Church Street pathway, chip seal resurfacing of all pathways will be undertaken. This work was rescheduled from the fall in order to take advantage of dry, hot conditions in the summer months which will ensure the surface sets successfully. The chip seal will improve the look of the pathways and also provide additional weed barrier. ∆
© 2009 The