Sudbury Voters and Interested Parties,
The Board Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail (FBFRT) decided to ask the Sudbury Board of Selectmen (BOS) candidates for the June 25, 2013 special election two very specific questions to elicit their stance on the bringing the BFRT to Sudbury.
We did so in the hope that Sudbury voters would be better informed about the BOS candidates’ stance on bringing the FBFRT to Sudbury and include this information into their vote decision-making. Below you will find the following:
1. The introduction to the questions included in request for responses email sent to each of the five BOS candidates
2. The unedited questions and responses from each of the five BOS candidates
3. The background included in the email sent to each of the five BOS candidates
We provide the responses here without commentary. Nonetheless, if you wish to learn more about the FBFRT’s offer and view
on bringing the BFRT to Sudbury please go to http://brucefreemanrailtrail.org/the-trail-so-far/sudburyext/
1. Introduction Provided to Sudbury BOS Candidates
Sudbury Board of Selectmen Candidate:
We believe that the future of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail is a very important issue to the citizens of Sudbury. Below, we ask two questions and request your responses by May 31, 2013. It is our intent to widely publicize full responses to all the questions to our over 900 Sudbury contacts, and the entire Sudbury citizenry so they can make informed choices at the June 25th election.
Further, below we provide a summary of our offer to fund the preliminary (“25%) design adhering to MassDOT guidelines.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
2. Unedited Questions and Responses
Q1: Without additional study or delay, will you vote to accept the FBFRT’s June 27, 2011 offer to fundraise (~$50,000) and pay for the preliminary 25% design (to MassDOT standards for a shared-use path or rail trail) of the 0.5-mile northernmost section from the Concord/Sudbury town line south to and across Route 117 (North Road) which will bring the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail to the sidewalk along the south side of North Road?
Thaddeus Gozdeck (seeking 2 year term), check box response: Maybe
Optional comments: As a biking enthusiast who has biked more than 1,000 miles a year for the past decade, I would love to see a bike trail in Sudbury as fast as humanly possible. My family enjoys the Cape Cod bike path many times a year. (We rode on it this past Memorial Day weekend.) As a Selectman I need to consider all the town’s interests. Since Sudbury lies at the end of this proposed rail trail, many travelers may be driving into Sudbury to find parking and then jumping on the trail from here. We need to carefully consider the potential unintended consequences such as crowded parking lots, 40B condo developments (as mentioned by large landowners in town), and/or crowded classrooms before we agree to accept money from an outside organization and become beholden to take action.
I would be disappointed to see the taxpayers of Sudbury pay to expand the Davis Field Parking Lot because the Town of Concord has not provided a parking lot for their end of the Rail Trail on Powder Mill Road.My children use Davis Field and I park there often. My concern is that the Town of Concord has not started to build or enhance a parking lot for their southern end of the rail trail and instead wants to
use the Davis Field Parking Lot in Sudbury. Some may argue accepting money from the Bruce Freeman group makes us morally beholden to them. Before we accept money from anyone or any group we should make sure we understand the parking impacts on Davis Field and perhaps ask the Town of Concord to either build a similar parking lot or compensate the Town of Sudbury for providing the parking for this end of the Rail Trail so we can expand and improve the Davis Field Parking Lot.
Eric Poch (seeking a 2 year term), check box response: Yes
First, this entire project is emblematical of two areas I hope to alleviate as Selectman, namely better Long-term Capital Planning and vigorous prioritization each year, and to “Finish Things We Start”, because with no final outcomes, we repeatedly waste the valuable energies of our town volunteers Yes and staff alike. I look forward to working toward with the FBFRT on this common goal as voted by the town residents, expediently and purposefully as a newly elected Sudbury Selectman.
That being said, I think a Rail Trail in Sudbury would be a tremendous enhancement to our community’s rich recreational heritage. In addition, it would improve Public Safety and provide a vital, North-South corridor for safe pedestrian passage. Having worked with the RTCAC since inception to discover whether such a path is feasible, I am the person responsible for suggesting a non-binding
referendum on the Town Warrant to better gauge public interest. I made the request while Chairing a Planning Board meeting where consideration of the FBFRT’s initial offer of $50k in funding was vetted, in consultation with the BoS.
I think working with the FBFRT to jump start the design phase for the first section of Sudbury’s part of the BFRT is an excellent idea. But it cannot be contingent on the MassDOT design being implemented and payment should be in advance. The design would provide concrete analysis, per MassDOT standards against which we can gauge both the viability of those standards with regards to the unique topographical, logistical and conservation related layout in Sudbury but also a preview to the cost.
Sudbury’s stretch of the BFRT contains 7 precarious crossings, which if able to be dealt with according to MassDOT standards, would improve public safety as well as access.
Charles Woodard (seeking 2 year term), check box response: Yes
No additional comments.
Daniel De Pompei (seeking 3 year term), check box response: Maybe
I am a 19 year member of the Rails to Trails Conservancy. I support Rail Trails. That being said, it is the job of the Selectmen to carry out the will of the majority of voters and always allow the minority to be heard. In Sudbury Town Meeting 2010 the Town voted unanimously to develop it’s own concept plan prior to proceeding any further with trail design. On a March 2012 non-binding resolution the Town voted unanimously to “move forward with designing the 0.5 mile segment of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail (BFRT) in north Sudbury”. The question you are now asking complicates the issue by adding the additional condition of “design to MassDOT standards”. I appreciate everyone’s frustration and I note that the Town staff has been ready to report the Town Concept Plan to the Selectmen for months but the selectmen have not put it on their schedule. I will, without delay, vote to formally present the Town Staff concept plan. If there are no conflicts between the Concept Plan and the current question, I will vote to accept the Friends offer. If there are conflicts with the current question and the Concept Plan, I will vote for the Selectmen and the Friends to meet and determine how best to move forward.
Leonard Simon (seeking 3 year term), check box response: Yes
Sudbury residents have long wanted the rail trail and expressed their support for it at the ballot box and Town Meeting. The rail trail would be a major town improvement, provide recreational, and exercise opportunities for adults and children. I strongly support bringing the rail trail to Sudbury and will vote ‘yes’ on this question.
This is a very generous offer from the Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail.
Q2: Do you support a request to the Community Preservation Committee for CPA funds to pay for the preliminary 25% design of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail on the railroad right-of-way through the balance of Sudbury (Route 117 south to the where the CSX owned property begins at the Mass. Central crossing), to seek a design that adheres to MassDOT standards for shared-use paths and to place such a binding question before the voters at the May 2014 Town Meeting?
Thaddeus Gozdeck (seeking 2 year term), check box response: Maybe
Again, as a biking enthusiast I would love to see a bike path in Sudbury as fast as humanly possible but the key phrase here is: “MassDOT standards.” I don’t think most people in Sudbury know what that means. To some it means a bike trail to others it means a highway through the woods. I know Sudbury wants a bike trail but that could be a dirt path or greenway like the Minuteman path in Lincoln or it could mean a much wider and bigger paved trail with wide shoulders on each side.
Also, since Sudbury’s rail-bed abuts major property owners, we need to consider the construction of a Rail Trail to DOT standards resulting in farms being developed into high density 40B condo developments as mentioned above.
I am all for bike paths but we need to fully understand the implication of what we are signing up for when we agree to standards from the Department of Transportation.
Eric Poch (seeking a 2 year term), check box response: Yes
At the end of the day, the design and funding of the Trail will reside with Sudbury residents at Town Meeting, not the BoS. It is therefore imperative that consideration of more than one option is illustrated to the residents and ultimate users of the pathway, so they are empowered to make an informed decision. I think the CPA is a viable source of funding for the Rail Trail, provided we can agree upon the standards to which the Town would like the trail built. Rather than commit today to a single funding method and a single construction standard, I’d like there to be three proposed project plans. Each with the most appropriate or available funding sources, i.e. a 100% MassDOT, 100% town funded and something in the middle, giving full consideration to the above mentioned concerns.
In certain sections of the proposed trail right of way (ROW), Sudbury faces some very serious considerations on how best to implement a rail trail without negatively impacting its economy and overburdening its businesses. In the Union Avenue and Town Center areas, we may want or need to consider diverting the tail trail away from the rail bed ROW. This may not be fully compatible with a financing mechanism that is 100% MassDOT standard focused.
Lastly, I’d like to go on record that I think it entirely inappropriate for a special interest lobby, a socalled “charitable/tax-exempt organization” like the FBFRT to insert itself into an active, democratic electoral process with the threat of negative publicity should the candidates not respond on their timing and calendar.
Original Response: Charles Woodard (seeking 2 year term), check box response:
No I think this is too controversial a project to involve the CPA, which is a critical piece of our open space funding and has a broad base of support. I would not want to erode that support by involving the rail trail. The people who are against it are against it vehemently. I would rather go directly to the voters for the design funds, just as we are doing with the police station. If the voters overwhelmingly approved of the rail trail the last time it was on the ballot I have every confidence they will approve the design funding.
Updated Response Submitted June, 9, 2013 & Posted June 11, 2013: Charles Woodard (seeking 2 year term), check box response: Yes
But I think this is too controversial a project to involve the CPA, which is a critical piece of our open space funding and has a broad base of support. I would not want to erode that support by involving the rail trail unless I was convinced that it would not harm the strong support the CPA has in Town. The people who are against the rail trail are against it vehemently. I would rather go directly to the voters for the design funds, just as we are doing with the police station. If the voters overwhelmingly approved of the rail trail the last time it was on the ballot I have every confidence they will approve the design funding.
Daniel De Pompei (seeking 3 year term), check box response: Yes
I am a 19 year member of the Rails to Trails Conservancy. I support Rail Trails. Any resident is, and always has been, free to place any proposal before the CPC. I have no intention of interfering with the process managed under the CPA or interfering with the will of a majority of the people. It is the responsibility of the CPA to determine the funding available for any given year, recommend projects and prioritize projects to the funding. I support the will of the people in the March 2012 non-binding resolution “Should the Town of Sudbury create a recreational Rail Trail more or less on the old rail right of way in Sudbury known as the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail”. I also support the will of the people from the 2010 Sudbury Town Meeting when the Town voted unanimously to develop it’s own concept plan prior to proceeding any further with trail design. The addition of the requirement to build the entire trail only to MassDOT and only within the existing right of way may or may not conflict with Sudbury’s Concept Plan discussed in Q1 above. We will not know until the Concept Plan is presented and vetted
with the voters. As stated earlier, I will, without delay, vote to present the Town Concept Plan. The chairman, however, controls the agenda (please note I presented legislation this year at Town Meeting to rotate the chairmanship of the BOS and that legislation was defeated). If, after the concept plan is presented, there are no conflicts and funding is available and prioritized and recommended by the CPC, I will support the will of the people at Town Meeting. If there are conflicts, I will vote to support negotiations to resolve the conflicts and move the Trail forward.
Leonard Simon (seeking 3 year term), check box response: Yes
Support of the rail trail would be an excellent use of CPA funds. Rail trails have become widely used facilities wherever they have been built. The rail trail in Sudbury would connect commercial, residential, civic, educational, and recreation centers. In reality, the rail trail is a linear park connecting people and places.
I will vote ‘yes’ on this question.
3. Background Provided to Sudbury BOS Candidates by the FBFRT
On June 27, 2011 (almost two years ago) we, the Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail (FBFRT), offered $50,000 to the Town of Sudbury to pay for the preliminary (“25%”) design adhering to MassDOT standards for shared-use paths of the 0.5-mile northernmost section of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail in Sudbury (“Bring the Trail to Sudbury” offer). See http://brucefreemanrailtrail.org/the-trail-so-far/sudburyext/ for an overview.
- A design built to MassDOT standards would result in a rail trail much like the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway, Phase 1 of the BFRT in Westford and Chelmsford, and the sections now scheduled for construction in Acton, Carlisle and Concord.
- The 0.5-mile northernmost section will continue the BFRT from the Concord/Sudbury town line south to and across Route 117 (North Road), and will bring the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail to the sidewalk along the south side of North Road thus allowing safe off-road access to the Trail by bicycle and foot for a great many Sudbury residents.
- The design also will include a crossing signal at North Road. When this section of the rail trail is completed, Sudbury residents will be able to safely travel all the way to Lowell (~17 miles) on the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail.
- However, until such time that the Town of Sudbury moves forward with construction of the Rail Trail, the Town of Concord will construct the trail south only to Powder Mill Road in Concord. The reason for stopping short of the Concord/Sudbury border is that the border is in the middle of the woods. Also, there will be minimal parking available at Powder Mill Road, so Sudbury residents who want to use the trail will have to drive to West Concord or cycle up hilly curvy Dakin Road to reach the trail entrance at Powder Mill Road. Conversely, construction of the 0.5-mile northernmost section into Sudbury will allow Concord to complete construction of the trail to the Sudbury / Concord border.
The FBFRT proposal is that out-pocket costs for the Town of the Sudbury will be $0. The FBFRT will pay for the entire study. We offered $50,000 as the estimate for the 25% design was slightly below that level. If the study costs more, we will fundraise to that level.
- We presume Sudbury will request all the funds for a study upfront, so it takes no payment risk in contracting for the work.
- There is no clawback provision to the offer. If after the 25% design commences and the Town decides to stop work or not to pursue the project or pursue a project that does not adhere to MassDOT standards, the funds spent are not recoverable.
When all is said and done, the FBFRT is offering to pay for a study (not construction) which the FBFRT will not control. The Town of Sudbury will control the study process within the constraints of MassDOT 25% Design standards and procedures. The citizens and officials of Sudbury will, as have the other FBFRT Phase 2 Towns, be given ample opportunity to manage, critique and comment on the project and product.
There are many questions that have come up regarding wetlands, parking, road crossings, mitigation for abutters, etc., etc. which require resources to answer. The FBFRT, with this $50,000 offer, is providing the means to address and answer those questions.
- If there are questions that should be addressed, they can be included in a 25% Design scope of work. If the inclusion of these tasks increases the cost beyond the near $50,000 cost estimate, we can get an updated cost estimate and adjust our fundraising goals.
- Please note, our offer encompasses a trail built on the railroad right-of-way.
The FBFRT prefers that the trail be designed and built as far south as possible. If the BOS desires a 25% Design for a longer segment, then the FBFRT are willing to consider such a request.
Prior to the spring 2012, the Town of Sudbury has voted 5 times in Town Meetings to support the progress of the BFRT.
During spring 2012, the BOS placed two identical questions on the Town Election ballot and Town Meeting Warrant regarding the BFRT. The text of the questions and the Town Election results are as follows:
- Article 34: Should the Town of Sudbury create a recreational Rail Trail more or less on the old rail right of way in Sudbury known as the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail (BFRT)? Results: YES 2288 (69%), NO 1040 (31%)
- Article 35: Should the Town of Sudbury move forward with designing a 0.5-mile segment of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail (BRFT) in north Sudbury from Rt. 117 at Davis Field to the Concord Town border?
- The identical two articles also overwhelmingly passed at May 2012 Town Meeting (no count was taken by the Town Moderator)
Since those spring 2012 votes, the BOS has continued to move very deliberately to respond to our request, they reconvened a Rail Trail Committee of Town Staff, and they have yet to request the Committee present the results of their findings.
- This is in addition to the eight years of studying the rail since the first meeting of the Rail Trail Advisory Town Committee (first official meeting March 3, 2005 see, http://www.sudbury.ma.us/departments/RailTrail/#)
On May 2 of Sudbury.be added on as a small but very logical addition to construction in 2016 or 2017. In May 2013 the Boston Region MPO (MPO) voted to provide full funding construction for all un-built sections north (footnote 1)
- Phase 2A – Acton, Carlisle, Westford in 2014
- Phase 2B – Bridge over Route 2 spanning Acton & Concord in 2017
- Phase 2C – Concord to the Sudbury border in 2016
If Sudbury moves swiftly with a 25% design of its northernmost 0.5-mile section, it in all likelihood could
Thus, Sudbury has a viable path for the State to pay for the construction of a standard rail trail from the Concord/Sudbury line to the south side of Rt. 117 in the foreseeable future.
Footnote 1 While this is not the final vote, having projects recommended for the draft TIP is a major milestone, and changes the landscape. The new expectation and default is that these three sections of the BFRT will be funded for construction by the above dates. See http://www.ctps.org/Drupal/data/calendar/pdfs/2013/MPO_0502_TIP_Non_Target_Lists.pdf