Letter to the Editor: Protect the Reformatory Branch Trail

~Submitted by Katherine Tecci

Please join me in voting to protect the Reformatory Branch Trail. There are many things I love about Bedford and the Reformatory Branch Trail is one of the top items on that list.    Our family has walked and ridden the Minuteman and the Narrow-Gauge Rail Trails and both are great options in our town.  But I think there’s something unique and special about the Reformatory Branch Trail and I’d hate to see it lose the character that it has today.

While I do have concerns about the increase we’d see in the speed of riders if it was paved, my vote to protect the trail is not out of fear for how it will change, but about love for the charm it has today.  If the plan to pave it was just one link in a chain of paved trails to extend across the state I may feel differently, but that is not the plan in other towns.  To just pave that this small section sacrifices so much.  A vote to pave the trail would not only affect us now, but future generations too, and not something that can be undone.  Over the years I have enjoyed countless hours on family bike rides, runs or pushing my sons in a stroller on this path.  It is a place I have cherished and I hope you take the time to experience it for yourself.  Please join me in voting to save the special trail that we are so fortunate to have in our town.

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Frank Richichi
October 2, 2022 9:40 am

I am one of the volunteers who maintains the Great Meadows trails.
The Reformatory Branch does NOT pass through Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge. If you look to the right of the trail walking toward Concord you will see the signs marking the edge of the refuge significantly off the trail. The refuge biologist and manager are both aware of the plans to extend the Minuteman Bikeway. They will add an extra bike rack or two in the refuge parking lot to accommodate extra traffic. Currently there is only one bike rack there.

Frank Richichi
October 2, 2022 9:29 am

Not all trails are built in one single construction project. The Bruce Freeman Trail was completed in several discontinuous segments. It is now being linked across Rt.2 in Concord. Eventually it will go from Lowell to Natick.
This segment in Bedford will overcome two obstacles to the extension, Railroad Ave and Rt. 62. Concord Town Meeting discussion of either a state funded or town funded extension to Concord Center has been put on hold pending the Bedford decision. No land needs to be taken in Concord so a simple majority is required to pass the improvements at the Concord Town Meeting.

Angela Winter
October 3, 2022 9:39 am
Reply to  Frank Richichi

This isn’t entirely true. The vote at Concord’s ATM was two part. One vote was for a feasibility study, which failed, and the other vote was to recommend keeping the trail natural, which passed by an overwhelming majority. They are not tying anything to the Bedford decision, or at least that’s what the will of the voters at their ATM shows.

John McClain
September 21, 2022 7:51 pm

Each link in the chain increase the value of overall network, and makes it more likely the next link will be built. In the short term there is lots of value in just making it easer for people to get around Bedford (people from the center to Chip-n-Farm, people from West Bedford to the Town Complex, children on South Road to JGMS and the High School, etc.)

In the longer term it will give Concord a reason to either improve their portion of the Reformatory Branch or put in good bike infrastructure along their part of Rt 62.

For better or worse we don’t build out the multi-use path network in some centrally coordinated way, but one town at a time. If we wait for some master top-down plan we will never get the network you are looking for.

Peter E. Kirton
September 23, 2022 4:48 am
Reply to  John McClain

The trail will never be extended into Concord because the Great Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary will never allow pavement through its area.

McClain, John
September 23, 2022 2:14 pm

My understanding there is room to improve the path through Great Meadows, even if it never gets paved. It also seems to me putting a real cycleway along Rt. 62 in Concord could be a viable option. An option that makes a lot more since in a world where the Minuteman is extended to Concord Road.

The larger point is activate transportation options beget more active transportation options…arguing against incremental improvements because they aren’t the whole thing is a recipe for staying stuck in a car centric model.

Tim Bennett
September 23, 2022 8:01 pm
Reply to  McClain, John

If McClain, John ever replies to John McClain I’m afraid the Bedford Citizen will implode into a black hole.

Amy Kelly
September 25, 2022 11:17 am
Reply to  Tim Bennett

What does this comment even mean? It adds nothing to the topic whatsoever.

Leah Devereaux
September 20, 2022 9:57 pm

I would love to be able to experience this gem with my family but it is not accessible to my partners wheelchair. I wish we had more access to nature, like able bodied families have, though I know the ratio would never be equal and that’s ok.

Last edited 1 year ago by Leah Devereaux
Mario Mendes
September 21, 2022 7:41 pm
Reply to  Leah Devereaux

Just in case you are truly are not aware of it, and that is very much a real possibility..

That path is paved from Lexington all the way to the Bedford Depot Park. There are quite a few parking spaces there (the Depot Park) reserved for those with handicap access needs. You can use the path from there all the way to Boston if you wish to go that far.

You need not hope and wait for this 1 bit of the path to be paved, you can enjoy it today.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mario Mendes
September 30, 2022 12:12 pm
Reply to  Mario Mendes

Yes, I am aware. This is the one consistent accessible location we are able to frequent as a family. We would love to have one more place to explore together to add some variety and options in our own town.

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