Sudbury Town Crier
Thursday, March 8, 2007
TO THE EDITOR:
It is easy to get the impression from recent letters to the editor
that most Sudbury residents are opposed to the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail.
But this would be misleading. In fact, the Friends of the Bruce Freeman
Rail Trail (dedicated to promoting its construction) is one of the larger
organizations in Sudbury, with over 600 supporters in town– about 1
for every 9 households. And this greatly understates support for the
Trail, because most people don’t publicly state their support for
everything they feel should be done. The Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail recently released a colorful map breaking down support by
neighborhood, viewable at www.brucefreemanrailtrail.org/maps/sudbury-support.html.
A fraction of the several dozen Trail abutters remain opposed. Experience with other Trails has shown that this is often the case before they are built. Afterwards, many abutters change their minds because of the recreational and social benefits. The increases in property values that usually follow probably don’t hurt. In Sudbury, Trail opponents have expressed concern that 1) the Trail won’t be used much at all like lesser-used trails in Sudbury conservation land, and 2) the Trail will be used by enormous crowds like the Minuteman Bike Trail. Sometimes they express both concerns simultaneously, as with Jim Nigrelli’s Feb. 21 letter. But the experience of Hudson suggests neither concern is justified. Although Hudson completed most of its Assabet River Rail Trail by last summer, I haven’t notice any ten-thousand strong crowds flocking to Hudson recently. But bicycling through Hudson, I’ve seen Hudson residents running, roller-blading, cycling, walking and generally enjoying their Trail. As for the Minuteman, anything routed through the most heavily populated parts of New England will be crowded.
There is a lot of unsubstantiated fear-mongering over cost, but Hudson and other towns with Rail Trails have found the cost of policing to be quite small and the cost of maintenance too small to be measured. Years ago, Sudbury citizens formulated the Long Term Master Plan for Sudbury, known as “Sustainable Sudbury.” This strongly recommended that the town explore the development of both the north-south and east-west rail beds for multi-use paths, in part to relieve traffic on the roads. That process has continued, slowly, while the Trail’s planners work to anticipate and avoid potential problems involving the environment and concerns of a handful of abutters. (Many of these concerns, including Mr. Nigrelli’s, are addressed on the FAQ sheet on the town’s Rail Trail web site.) It’s very difficult to please everyone, and our system of government was not built for speed.
It’s now time to take the next step in the process. At this year’s Town Meeting, we can move forward with the next phase of gathering critical information concerning the Trail. At least hundreds, probably thousands, of Sudbury residents are looking forward to getting outdoors on the trail; some to walk, others to roller-blade, and others to bicycle commute. Personally, I can’t wait to run with the jogging stroller on summer evenings.