Friday, November 26, 2010
Great Brook Winter Trail Use
To the Editor:
With reference to changes coming to Great Brook this winter, and as a year-round trail user (walker, runner, biker and skier), I would like to offer the following commentary.
Stuart Johnstone should be commended for his good stewardship and maintenance of trails for cross-country skiing and his point regarding trail conflict is timely. Steve Carlin, likewise, is fulfilling his obligation of ensuring access to the broader population. However, the potential for walker and skier dual-use, leading to conflict or worse, injury, is all too real.
While it appears that the plan is a “done deal”, implementation requires clear designation of multi-use trail corridors with provision of “double tracks”; one wide lane for skiers and another for walkers. In the case of the Litchfield loop trail, for the most part, space could allow this to be accomplished. In other sections, use of traffic flow measures, such as warning signs and directional cones should be employed to guide users. In adopting this new arrangement, the Park has an obligation to provide these, thus allowing Stuart to focus on the ski franchise.
While I personally prefer the previous arrangement (i.e. walkers to the West of Lowell Street), careful planning, patience and mutual respect might make the Park’s new plan workable. At this juncture, I remain skeptical.
Thanks for composting
To the Editor:
What do you get when you ask families to recycle and compost waste at the Carlisle School Spaghetti Supper? A 50% reduction in the solid waste hauled to the transfer station. This is a truly amazing accomplishment for a minimal investment in effort – a compost bucket, a sign and parent and staff volunteers – proof that small efforts can have big impacts.
While full-scale composting of cafeteria and kitchen organic waste won’t begin until January-February of this year, school staff and members of the Carlisle School Garden and Composting Project team (newly named by students as Carlisle Grows Green) thought the Spaghetti Supper would be a great opportunity to introduce composting at school. We were overwhelmed by the positive response and result.
Specifically, last year’s garbage amounted to 12 full bags for disposal. This year that number was down to six bags.
The “recipe” for this success consisted of:
– composting uneaten salad and non-meat, non-recyclable organic material
– using cafeteria silverware instead of plastic forks
– stacking Styrofoam bowls instead of random bagging to eliminate “air” waste
– diligent recycling of cans, plastic bottles and juice boxes
Bottom-line: recycling and composting what we can results in nutrient rich compost for garden beds, reduction in garbage hauled to the Transfer Station for incineration, and recovery of finite resources through recycling. The community at large directly benefits because less solid waste means lower tipping fees for the town – a win-win-win for the project and the town.
Thanks to all who attended the Supper and made the extra effort to reduce the ‘end of the line’ impact of the event, a contribution that benefits us all.
You can follow the progress of Carlisle Grows Green by checking the following site: www.carlisleschoolgarden.org.
Carlisle Grows Green Project Team Facilitator
Keep ski trails for skiers
To the editor:
Twenty eight years ago, at the founding of the present Great Brook Ski Touring Center, the central contentious issue was exclusive use of the trail network for groomed skiing. This contention sparked a lawsuit which lasted nearly a decade and culminated in certifying the Commonwealth’s right to restrict trail usage. The touring center only survived this firestorm because of the strength and vision of then park district manager Don Stoddard and the staunch support of George Senkler, then chair of the state park advisory committee.
The touring center contract with the Commonwealth, now up for renewal, invites walkers and other “authorized users” into the heart of the groomed trail network with shared usage proposed for several ski trails. This is incompatible with groomed skiing. Footsteps destroy ski tracks, wet snow freezes into ice lumps, dogs and horses add their marks. Walkers and skiers seeking shared usage have over 50 miles available in Carlisle, some accessible directly from the touring center. Shared usage in trails such as Chicken is outright dangerous as it blends quick downhills with blind corners, inviting collision.
The proposed loss of groomed ski trails is a severe hit. Great Brook has already the smallest mileage of the ski touring centers in Massachusetts, and mileage is important in dispersing the sometimes large crowds. Shared usage threatens the viability of Chicken Trail, created 22 years ago to offer black diamond (expert) skiing proximate to the ski barn. It is the trail on which high school racers train, and the centerpiece challenge in the Dual County League high school races. This is an unsafe trail for shared use and an irreplaceable loss to our local high schools.
These issues should have been dealt with months ago, as the necessary ski trail and barn preparations are now weeks overdue and early snow will challenge quality skiing. The ski center has been told these terms are non-negotiable, and no pre-season work can begin without a new contract.
In years past the ski center has enjoyed an effective working partnership with park authorities, to public benefit. That is now challenged, as is the quality of the skiing experience. I hope that the community expresses itself in a clear and resolute manner on this matter, that park authorities listen, and that the public is served.
© 2010 The