Letter to the Editor: Abutter Supports Town’s Purchase of Land Rights to Reformatory Trail

~Submitted by Sanjay Patel

I have been following the debate around the Minuteman Extension over the past several weeks with interest and admiration for the passionate engagement of my fellow Bedford citizens.  I’ve heard compelling arguments both for and against the paving… and like many of you, this is not a clear black and white issue for me.  In the spirit of advancing the discussion though, I’d like to provide my own perspective as an abutter who regularly accesses the Reformatory Trail from my own backyard and who theoretically has something to lose from all this.    

I will be voting in support of the motion to purchase the land rights to the trail.  There are many reasons for this, including:

  • To my understanding, there are > 30 miles of unpaved trails in Bedford.  The proposal calls for a 1.7 mile portion being paved.  I am skeptical that paving this small stretch poses an existential threat to the natural beauty of our overall trail system.  On the contrary, it seems to me like a reasonable accommodation in the interest of expanding accessibility.
  • My home is adjacent to the proposed underpass for Concord Road. For those who live nearby, the current crosswalk is known to be a potential hazard.  Over the past few months, I have personally witnessed a car hit and seriously injure a bicycler and multiple near misses.  Most of this has nothing to do with careless behavior or inattentiveness on anyone’s part – rather, there are just times during the day from my own experience when the sun prevents drivers from properly identifying a crosser until it is too late.  To stay with the current crosswalk is a risk I’m just not comfortable with as the father of 3 young children.
  • During the permitting process, the Town discovered that I actually own the portion of the trail that our backyard abuts.  As a result, they are proposing to purchase a ~ 20’ x 40’ section of land that encompasses the trail itself and the small slope leading up to it.  This is land that I had no idea I owned, nor does it make sense that I do.  The trail should belong to the Town of Bedford and its citizens, and is actually what the proposed motion is about.  

Thanks and I look forward to seeing everyone at Town Meeting. 

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The opinions expressed in Letters to the Editor are those of the writer, not The Bedford Citizen.

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October 29, 2022 8:47 am

Thank you for your insights. Like you, I access this section of the trai almost daily. My experience of the already-paved extension of the rail trail profoundly differs from this 1.7 mile path. Its natural state transitions to Concord’s beautifully preserved trail to Great Meadows. In short, I cannot safely walk on the paved trails used by bicycles and motorized cycles.
To your second point about the crosswalk, AGREED! Even with utmost caution it’s dangerous to cross there. Perhaps there’s a sound reason why there aren’t pedestrian-activated lights there?
Finally, you may, for the greater good, personally choose to surrender and sell property that you’ve paid taxes to own. Others will hopefully have the OPTION of keeping or selling land.

Dawn LaFrance-Linden
October 28, 2022 12:31 pm

Thank you for sharing your clear, thoughtful, and community-minded perspective.

October 28, 2022 9:48 am

Hi Sanjay, thank you so much for speaking up about this! It is really exciting to see an abutter in favor, I am sure there are others, but they may be not willing to speak up, so thank you! Expanding accessibility is the key for my family’s ability to use the trail.

R Mantz
October 28, 2022 7:05 am

Thank you for offering a clear, focused and articulate perspective on this heated issue.

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