~Submitted by Dori Pulizzi
The debate over the Reformatory Branch Trail is long standing. At the 2010 Town Meeting, I presented from the stage, and spoke out against paving. Along with many others, I believe that “less is more.”
Town leaders assured us of future chances to discuss possible designs, including alternatives to pavement. Wishing to be conciliatory, I publicly recommended “yes” to a design process.
At that meeting, Janet Powers made a motion to add an amendment to create a committee to ensure planning be done in concurrence with community preferences. It was voted down.
The turn of events at that meeting and after haunts me.
Town leaders swiftly applied for outside funding, which hinged on using pavement. As a result, we lost our opportunity to provide input on the design. Since 2010, the writing has been on the wall: pavement is at the heart of the plan.
Having been robbed of any real opportunity for input, some opted out of attending design meetings.
Although townspeople voted down the project at the March 2022 Town Meeting, the Select Board brought back the issue. At board and committee meetings since, some town officials have acted like pavement is a done deal.
At our upcoming Town Meeting, leaders will link funding with pavement. Their presentation will likely offer a false binary: vote for paving and support an influx of funding OR vote against paving and hurt the town’s financial well being.
This is an attempt to frame the argument in a way that paints those who have fought long and hard to preserve a community treasure as small-minded and selfish. This type of governing hurts our community.
In cases of eminent domain, the government must weigh the losses against the public good. Consider the Quabbin Reservoir. Citizens of four Massachusetts towns lost their homes so that people near Boston had enough water. In balancing citizens’ needs, hard decisions were made. There were winners and losers.
In this case, there’s no real need. Some in town, to fulfill their agenda, have manufactured a need enticing voters to support paving by linking it to funding.
They’ve ignored and minimized residents’ concerns, and will attempt to use eminent domain. The losses are real. This sets a dangerous precedent for local control.
This is our town.
Use your voice! Preserve our trail, and vote NO on Question 10!