Letter to the Editor: Opposed to Paving the Reformatory Branch Trail

~ Submitted by  John Goding

Recent events remind me of the 1970s Joni Mitchell song, Big Yellow Taxi. The song’s most recognizable refrain is ‘They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.’ Little did I know how that song would become relevant so many years later.

I am one of a growing number of Bedford residents strongly opposed to the environmental damage and loss of natural beauty that will occur under the Reformatory Branch Trail Bikeway Extension proposal. This was voted down at a Bedford town meeting in March. I’ve seen some statements that this proposal is ‘a good start’, and I believe there are some that see this as just that. I can only imagine that some will want to continue paving past The Great Meadows into Concord. It seems that some will not be satisfied until every natural trail is paved. While the planned width is 18 feet, the destruction will likely extend well beyond that to accommodate the heavy machinery that must clear away everything in its path.

I’ve run that beautiful trail for 20 years and the last thing I want to see is it turned into another paved highway like the 22-mile (round-trip) Minuteman Bikeway that runs from the Bedford Depot into Arlington. I ran Minuteman Bikeway a few times early on and never will again. Cyclists and rollerbladers often careen by. I don’t hear the birds and frogs, see wildlife, or smell the woods and bogs like I do walking or running on the Reformatory Branch trail. It is peaceful and beautiful, dappled in sunlight or with ground fog nestled low to the trail. When I am on that path I am connected to nature

For those who say there’s a need for more paved trails, I say that you already have 22 miles of it. Leave the beauty of this trail untouched for those who appreciate it, don’t destroy it.

Another refrain from Big Yellow Taxi is ‘Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.’ Let’s hope that Bedford does, stops this, and decisively tells the town and Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (BR MPO) to shelve this proposal for good.

Please see https://savereformatorytrail.org/, attend the Town Meeting on November 14, and vote NO to preserve Bedford’s natural beauty.

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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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Sandra Hackman
October 16, 2022 11:09 am

I do hear bird song on the existing Minuteman rail trail, including numerous warbler species in the spring. I also greatly enjoy the surrounding and overhead greenery, as well as easy links to abutting conservation land. The rail trail extension will include all that.

McClain, John
October 11, 2022 10:09 pm

No one is suggesting paving every nature trail in town. Because this is a former railroad right of way it is uniquely well suited to become an accessible multi-use path. This isn’t true of the other 30+ miles nature trails in town. It is also unique in that it is the only viable route to create a multi-use path connecting, the end of the Minuteman path, Dept. Park, and JGMS to West Bedford. There is no slippery slope from this project to paving over every nature trail. Even if there was, it would still need to go through Town Meeting — the citizens of Bedford have had (and continue to have) agency through all 18 years of this process.

As for how far the project extends into the woods. Because we have the 100% project plans we don’t have to speculate. The limit of vegetation removal is clearly marked on the plans, and generally track the path closely. The town will sign off on removal of trees inside the two “grubbing” lines. Vegetation outside these lines isn’t gonging to be removed.

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