Letter to the Editor: Leave the Reformatory Branch Natural

~ Submitted by Julie Brill

It’s still possible to stop the paving of the Reformatory Branch Trail. Vote no on Article 11 at Town Meeting on Monday. Many are unaware the plan would remove every tree on the elevation.

Cutting acres of trees, paving, and plowing for recreational use is not the greener option. The pavement would extend the Minuteman Bike Path two miles to the Concord line, then wait for Concord to decide if it will continue. Rail trail construction has gone town by town rather than risk a state environmental review. The path goes through wetlands and connects conservation areas.

The Minuteman Bike Path is not primarily used by commuters, but by recreational bicyclists, many of whom drive and park near the path. We can address safety concerns along Railroad Avenue and crossing Concord Road without destroying our tree-lined, dirt path.

As a lifelong resident who graduated BHS class of 1988 and raised my kids here, I’ve had a front-row seat to Bedford’s urbanization. Too often Bedford has said yes to development when we should have said no. We’ve lost so many natural spaces and now they’re gone forever.

I attended my first town meeting in the eighties. The issue was cutting down ancient trees on Dudley Road. When the town voted yes, Mimi Adler and others chained themselves to those trees. Those trees are gone. Mimi and some of the others have passed.

Like many in town, I love walking my dog and skiing the path, stopping and talking with neighbors, and enjoying nature. Other residents run, bike, birdwatch, and snowshoe. The town maintains the path, removing downed trees and filling in potholes. The trail is one of the best parts of living in West Bedford.

The plan would take down every tree on the elevation, pave and widen the path, and plow it in winter. I was at the meeting over a decade ago voting no. At that meeting, we were promised the path would not be plowed. That promise has not been kept.

Our peaceful trail could become part of one of the nation’s busiest bike paths. Bicyclists whizzing past at 30 mph shouting, “on your left”. It’s stressful. If you want a paved bike path, we already have one in town. Those of us who enjoy the path now, know it works just fine as it is.

Please join me in voting no on Article 11 on Monday.

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Julia Whiteneck
March 24, 2022 10:08 pm

Those of us unable to get onto the trail because of accessibility issues might enjoy it also with those of you who use it now when it gets paved.
Also, please note, regarding the “whole elevation” – the first paragraph of the notice on the town website lists how many trees are being taken out (20) and how many are being put in (68). To put the 4.34 acres into perspective: 4.34 acres is 189,050.4 square feet. 1.7 miles is 1.7 time 5,280 linear feet = 8,976 feet. What is being proposed is to clear trees from that length to the width which gives you 189,050.4 divided by 8,976 feet or a path that is 21 feet wide.

Dan Carroll
March 24, 2022 12:23 am

I agree with you as well and our family will be voting NO on article 11. Just last weekend the Bedford Fire Department responded to an accident where a bicyclist collided with a pedestrian walking the paved portion of the Minuteman Bikeway. We personally don’t want that to happen to our three young boys, who love walking this trail where we live in west Bedford.

Laura Wallace
March 23, 2022 8:23 pm

I agree with your comments and plan to vote no on article 11. My family enjoys walking, biking, running and skiiing on the trail. i gave up walking on the Minuteman BIkeway…bikes go too fast. Paving will encourage through bikers to use it and make it less safe.

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