By Julie McCay Turner
The ad hoc Bedford Arbor Resources Committee (BARC) met with DPW Director David Manugian and Tree Warden Dennis Freeman on Friday morning to discuss the proposed sidewalk on the south side of Pine Hill Road, from Heritage Drive to North Road, and the associated tree cutting that the sidewalk will necessitate. According to the Planning Board documents, 38 trees of various species and measuring from 3 to 28 inches in girth are vulnerable.
Friday’s information session was held in preparation for the Scenic Roads hearing scheduled during the Planning Board’s regular meeting at 7:30 pm on Tuesday, June 25.
The hastily scheduled informational meeting (https://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/2019/06/discuss-the-pine-hill-road-sidewalk-design-friday-june-21-at-1130-am/, posted on June 18, 2019) drew a quorum of BARC members and several nearby residents.
BARC and the residents are concerned that Pine Hill Road retains a neighborhood feel rather than enhancing its unofficial reputation as a speedy cut-through road with few if any, traffic-calming measures. Arbor Resources chair Jaci Edwards noted that the presence of trees alongside a road deters speeding motorists, and gives the already-designated Scenic Road more visual presence.
Edwards wondered why the current approval process seems to be moving at warp speed. While the Scenic Roads hearing was posted in two newspapers of record, as of late Friday afternoon, there was no mention of the hearing on the town website, except as an item on Tuesday’s Planning Board agenda. The hearing was also mentioned under New Business at the end of BARC’s May 28 meeting.
Everyone agreed that the Pine Hill Road sidewalk is a priority and that it should go forward.
DPW Director David Manugian noted that there are several parties of interest for the project in addition to BARC: the Transportation Advisory Committee, the Bicycle Advisory Committee, and the Selectmen as Bedford’s road commissioners.
While there could be exceptions to the current plan, constraints limiting some of the sidewalk construction options include the 5-foot path needed to meet ADA compliance standards, and a statutory 3-foot strip of grass separating the sidewalk from the roadway.
Manugian added that there is a mitigation fund to replace and care for trees installed to replace trees that have been felled by such projects. With proposed construction projects at Lane School, the John Glenn Middle School, and Bedford High School expected to take trees; there should be funds available for mitigation into the foreseeable future. Recent mitigation efforts at JGMS resulted in a new landscape plan installed to coincide with Bedford’s 2019 Arbor Day festivities (https://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/2019/04/bedford-celebrates-arbor-day-2019-a-new-landscape-and-education/)
Adding that he would be amenable to tweaking the current plan to address multiple concerns, Manugian noted that the process and its conversations are good practice for the community, with the South Road sidewalk from Washington Street to Liberty Road queued up to follow this summer’s installation of the Pine Hill Road sidewalk.