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Fall 2012 Update


By Peter Cohen - Posted on 06 October 2012

Dear Friends,

Over the last few months, we've made more great progress toward building the Bay Colony Rail Trail.  Thanks to your sustained commitment, here's what we've achieved recently:

Funding for Engineering Study

In August, the Needham town officials responsible for the Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds considered an application from the Bay Colony Rail Trail (BCRT) to fund a "conceptual planning and design study" of the Needham portion of the trail.  Approval for the application, which won the unanimous endorsement of the Needham Board of Selectman, will be voted on at the special Town Meeting late this month.

The engineering study will consider parking, access, maintenance, bridge repairs and other issues that we'll need to address in order to move forward. This engineering project follows the MBTA's approval of a 99-year lease of the abandoned railroad right-of-way to BCRT for use as a rail trail.  Now each town along the route, including Needham, Dover and Medfield, must decide whether to accept the lease.

To learn more about the CPA funding, and to show support for application, please consider attending an open forum at 7:30 pm on October 10th at the Public Services Administration Building on Dedham Ave.

Broad support for BCRT

Over the summer, we collected nearly 400 signatures from Needham residents in support of the BCRT.  Volunteers working at the RTS, NBA fair, and Farmers Market had a wonderful experience seeing the eager and enthusiastic support of our neighbors for our efforts. 

In another sign of support, a group of 15-20 braved a trek along the trail in June from Needham Junction to Red Wing Bay at the Charles River.  We learned that the trail, unattended, can get wildly over-grown! 

Funding authorized in Transportation Bond Bill

With the support of State Representative Denise Garlick, the transportation bond bill recently passed on Beacon Hill includes authorization for $250,000 for a rail trail in the towns of Needham, Dover and Medfield.  If the funds are officially appropriated, this money can be used to support design, construction and on-going maintenance of the trail.  The bill also authorizes funding for several other rail trail projects throughout the Commonwealth.

Denise Garlick has been a consistent supporter of the Bay Colony Rail Trail, which involves all three towns in her district.

Input from Needham Abutters

In order to understand the concerns of the residents who live adjacent to the proposed trail in Needham, local volunteers have begun hosting neighborhood gatherings for discussion on the trail, hosted by neighborhood supporters and facilitated by Bay Colony Rail Trail board members. These sessions provide valuable opportunities to talk about security, maintenance, hours of operation, and other concerns of abutters.

Additional meetings will be conducted with abutters and others in the community to ensure that concerns are heard and addressed. If you are interested in hosting or attending one of the neighborhood gatherings, please contact us at baycolonyrailtrail@gmail.com.

Dover Rail Trail Meetings open meetings scheduled

The Dover Rail Trail commitee has scheduled three meetings to hear ideas and concerns from Dover residents about the possibility of converting the train rails in Dover to a recreational path. The meetings are scheduled at the Library meeting room for September 27 - 7:00 - 8:30 PM, October 2 - 10:30 AM - 12:00 and October 13- 10:00 AM - 11:30. The purpose of the meeting is to hear what the community has to say. There will not be a formal presentation at this time.
 
The Dover Selectmen have appointed a committee to explore the pros and cons of this project. The Dover Rail Trail Committee is contacting other towns that have had similar projects and following up on all of the questions and ideas raised by Dover residents.
 
The committee wants to hear from all Dover residents who are interested in how this project will affect the town and its residents. They particularly want to hear from residents whose property abuts the tracks. 

BCRT issues considered by Norfolk Hunt Club

The Nofolk Hunt Club has developed a useful list of questions for its members to consider on how the proposed BCRT will affect the community.  This list includes questions on parking, road crossings, maintenance, regulations and the trail surface. 

The Norfolk Hunt Club has been "an active proponent of creating, preserving and protecting open space and trails for recreational use" in Medfield and Dover for more than 115 years,

Postive press coverage

The BCRT has been covered in both the Needham Times and the Boston Globe recently.  The positive articles presented the overall plan, the endorsement of Needham Selectman John Bulian and included an interview with Tad Staley. 

Update on a neighboring trail project

The City of Newton is planning to establish the Upper Falls Greenway, a mile-long linear park on the old right-of-way paralleling Needham Street.  For the last two years, the Newton Bicycle/Pedestrian Task Force has helped to build a coalition of neighborhood folks and elected representatives around the proposal.   Beginning last year, a coalition of volunteers collected over 800 signatures on a petition to establish the Greenway, which was then unanimously supported by the Upper Falls Area Council and local Aldermen at a public meeting in February.

Great progress has since been made, with a working group of Aldermen, City officials, and local volunteers planning for the proposed Greenway conversion.  This spring, a community project removed trash and cleared overgrown brush from the right-of-way as part of the Newton SERVES volunteer effort.  The City of Newton is now reviewing the MBTA lease during October, with an eye toward construction beginning next spring.

The most up-to-date information is available at www.upperfallsgreenway.org.

Clarification on BCRT and the "Needham Rail Trail Greenway"

The BCRT has been working closely with Needham officials on converting the abandoned rail bed that runs from Needham Junction (near Roche Brothers), through Dover, and into Medfield.  At this time, at the request of Needham officials, the BCRT is not focused on the abandoned rail bed that runs from Newton, across Route 128, to the Needham Heights commuter station.  While the BCRT supports the vision of better, safer bike routes from Needham into Newton, our current priority is the Needham Junction to Medfield portion of the trail.

Thanks as always for your great support.

Happy trails,

The Bay Colony Rail Trail team

 

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BCLR 1705 comes off the commuter rail line at Needham Junction.

BCLR 1705 comes off the commuter rail line at Needham Junction.

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Topsfield Linear Common Bicycle Store on the Rail Trail

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Centre Street overpass by Claybrook looking South to Dover Center 3

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