Friday, August 13, 2010
Pathways Committee disbanded
To be reconstituted as a task force when needed
Pathway maven Deb Belanger addressed the July 27 Selectmen’s meeting and asked that the Pedestrian and Bike Safety Advisory (Pathways) Committee be disbanded. She explained, “We are in transition. When the Pathways Committee was formed about 15 years ago we started out as an evaluation and research body. We evolved into a recommending body to the Board of Selectmen. The next task was to fund (the projects) and the Selectmen asked us to proceed with that. We went to several Town Meetings and received the funding necessary to implement the recommendations.
“When implementation was needed, we were asked to stand in that role as well. Now that the pathway project has been evaluated, researched, recommended, funded and implemented we consider the project now complete. In doing that, we and committees working with us gained a significant amount of experience. We’ve developed processes of how to put a pathway in. We’ve standardized what pathways would look like, how to site and implement them.
“We feel that for future pathway segments, that whole effort can now be institutionalized and a standing Pathway Committee is no longer necessary. As a committee, the members have elected to not request reappointment and request the Selectmen contemplate a different model – one that is not a standing committee but rather a task force that functions on the back of what we consider to be institutionalized practices.”
Belanger gave a financial summary: over time approximately $390,000 has been expended, leaving about $103,000. The committee would like to reserve $10,000 for engineering of the Westford Street segment from Rockland Road to Towle Field. It was not built for topographic reasons. An additional $30,000 is earmarked for legal and engineering costs related to easements, implementation of safety devices for pathways that exist today, and siltation barrier removal.
She cited several remaining priority segments as candidates for the remaining $63,000 – the existing gravel path from Church Street to the library, Kimball’s to Stearns Street along Bedford Road, and East Street to the library crosswalk. She attributed the cost savings realized to a lot of volunteer work and “good luck” in getting asphalt contracts in place before oil price increases.
In order to consider the project complete, a Conservation Commission Certification of Completion is needed once siltation barriers are removed. Another task is to finalize easement documentation. She said, “If additional work is necessary, Stamsky and McNary (local engineering firm) are on deck to do it. If no additional work is needed, I’m on deck to do it.”
She suggested that safety improvements should be determined by the Traffic Safety Advisory Committee (TSAC), comprised of the Police Chief, Fire Chief, Town Administrator and a Selectman. Pedestrian and cyclist concerns should be directed to the TSAC. Homeowner concerns should be directed to the Town Administrator.
Selectmen Chair John Williams expressed the board’s thanks to the committee and to volunteers involved with the project, particularly for their perseverance. He said, “To me this makes a lot of sense (the task force approach).” He concluded by saying, “If asked, would you be willing to serve on the safety committee looking out for the pedestrian?” Belanger responded, “Yes, I would be happy to represent pedestrian issues.” ∆
© 2010 The