Town Meeting Rejects Paved Bikeway, Moves Forward on Fire Station

Moderator Mark Siegenthaler. Photo Credit Wayne Braverman

The Special Town Meeting on Monday night failed to achieve the two-thirds minimum approval of an article to authorize acquisition of easements needed to extend the Minuteman Bikeway west along the Reformatory Branch trail.

The vote of 537 to 537, announced around midnight by Moderator Mark Siegenthaler, affirms a similar outcome at the Annual Town Meeting during the spring, which effectively derailed the long-planned project.

Monday’s voting culminated 90 minutes of presentations and discussion with an unprecedented turnout of almost 1,200 voters. For the first time. Town Meeting took place in the Bedford High School gymnasium with an overflow in the cafeteria.

The decision was cast by secret ballot as Siegenthaler had announced a few days before the Special Town Meeting. That process, as he predicted, took an hour.

Special Town Meeting voters also defeated an attempt to suspend approved spending on design or a fire station at 139 The Great Road. There was a companion article to appoint an ad hoc committee to identify additional prospective sites. Both articles were on the warrant by petition.

That vote required a majority, and was completed with raised cards, similar to a voice vote. 

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Julie Brill
November 18, 2022 10:21 am

I disagree that this vote “affirms a similar outcome at the Annual Town Meeting during the spring”. This much larger turnout creates a more statistically significant result. We went from about 61% voting yes in March to 50% this week. In other words, this needed about 30 more votes to pass in March and 538 more votes to pass this time. The results this time means it wouldn’t have passed even if it just needed a simple majority. This article lost when many people didn’t know it was up for a vote and lost by a landslide once people had a chance to educate themselves about the article.

November 19, 2022 5:59 pm
Reply to  Julie Brill

It needed 180 more votes to pass this time (537+180=717 out of 1074), but that’s beside the point. Gloating and continuing to scold isn’t bringing us closer together as a community either. The No side has been quick to ask for healing, but Yes supporters will get there a lot faster if No voters refrain from rubbing our faces in it.

Julie Brill
November 25, 2022 1:50 pm
Reply to  Erin Sandler

I’m sorry you see asking for accurate reporting to be gloating and scolding. Assuming the worst intentions of folks who don’t see the world exactly as you do won’t bring our community together.

Tim Bennett
November 15, 2022 9:15 pm

I will have to find a new hobby :(

November 15, 2022 5:11 pm

Thank you, Mike Rosenberg, for getting this article out so quickly after a long night. It’s appreciated!

Frank Richichi
November 15, 2022 2:40 pm

My family and I have lived in Bedford for 35 years. I have hiked, skied, snow showed and cycled around Bedford for over 40 years. I am a volunteer for the US Fish and Wildlife Service and work with the team that manages Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge in Concord. I am also a volunteer with the National Park Service restoring natural habitats in the Boston Harbor Islands and am currently a member of the Bedford Conservation Commission.
I was surprised and quite frankly amazed by the opposition to this project that has surfaced over the last few months. I had originally intended to speak at Town Meeting but decided not to because I thought the motivation and value of the bikeway had been so well presented that I had little new to offer.
Some of the concerns about this project were valid although I may not hold the same view. Others are exaggerated though partially true. Others are just not true at all.
I realized that this was becoming a game of Whack-A-Mole. There would be endless excuses to oppose the path. There would be endless attempts to counter them. But if you step back for a minute this all becomes a lot simpler and easier to understand.
There was in fact ONLY one reason to support the Minuteman Bikeway Extension. It is both necessary and it is sufficient. YOU CARE ENOUGH..

  • You care enough about the safety of students traveling down a crumbling Railroad Ave which has neither sidewalk nor shoulder.
  • You care enough about the safety of cyclists and pedestrians crossing Rt. 62 where more cyclists have been seriously injured then turtles.
  • You care enough about providing a safe and accessible connection through town for students, seniors (like me), those not so sure on their feet using walkers, canes and wheelchairs, young parents with strollers, joggers, joggers with jogging strollers.
  • You care enough to want to make Bedford an accessible community for all of us. A community of interconnected neighborhoods.
  • In short…You care enough to make a choice for the greater good of our community rather than just a personal preference.

There was only ONE reason to oppose the Bikeway: You just don’t care enough…
By the vote it is clear that Bedford doesn’t care enough. Shame on us.

Angela Winter
November 16, 2022 12:22 pm
Reply to  Frank Richichi

This topic caused a lot of division among the people of Bedford. The election is over, and we need to move out without name calling and characterizing residents as uncaring. This is not helping to bring people back together.

Robin Steele
November 16, 2022 3:31 pm
Reply to  Frank Richichi

Frank I know you are upset but you may want to take this down and see if you want to post it in the future after you have time to think about it. I happened to be on the non paver side and I care deeply about this town and so do the people who supported the non pavers. We all have our reasons for why we felt this was or was not a good idea. Generalizing it as people do not care is unfair and unjustified.

Tom Kenny
November 16, 2022 5:16 pm
Reply to  Frank Richichi

We care – it’s just that more people care about the prospect of the Select Board seizing, and subsequently ruining, their fellow citizens’ property just so they can get their hands on outside funds.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tom Kenny
Mario Mendes
November 16, 2022 8:39 pm
Reply to  Frank Richichi

Some people just want to watch the world burn.

Mike Merrick
November 15, 2022 11:42 am

The select board and their supporters sold this as getting cars of the road, but the town never took a survey to ask how many Bedford residents would stop driving to work and ride a bike if the RBT was paved. If they did, I am sure the numbers would have been VERY LOW. Now, they may have argued that by paving the trail would open the commute opportunity to non Bedford residents. But think about this, the town would be asking its residents to bear all the burden so that it benefits mostly non residents. Citizens spoke loud and clear last night. Paving the RBT is DEAD. Nobody from the bike committee will be goading anyone this time….

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