~ Submitted by Kate Reynolds
I am writing to express my concern over the recent announcement that the Select Board will be once again bringing the issue of paving and widening the Reformatory Branch Trail to Town Meeting. I am opposed to the paving of the trail but also to the process by which it might be paved, namely, the idea that the Select Board can bring something to a vote a second time because they did not achieve their desired outcome.
This proposal has been presented partly as a way to “go green,” supposedly because it will result in a huge jump in commuter biking. On any given weekday there are few cars in the lot at Depot Park. Evidently, not many people from Bedford use the Minuteman Bikeway to get to work. It is unlikely that the less than two miles of trail between Depot Park and the proposed end of the paving is bracketed by residents who are clamoring to bike to work and would do so, if only the trail outside their backdoors was paved to the width of a road.
At best, more people “might” bike to work if the path was widened and paved. We don’t know how many. We do know that covering almost two miles of forest trail with bituminous asphalt will definitely have a negative environmental impact NOW. There is no “maybe.” It defies logic to think that we should pave over a trail with a carbon-based product, removing an enormous amount of mature tree cover during the process, for the hypothetical benefit of a few people possibly biking instead of driving.
We just recently hit 100 degrees in May. It boggles the mind to think that our response, as reasonable and well-meaning citizens, is going to be to lay down more asphalt.
It is my hope that my letter will raise some new issues to think about as we prepare for yet another contentious town meeting. I also hope that people in town begin to recognize that many of us who are against the paving are not in need of “education,” but simply have valid convictions that differ from theirs. When we cast others as “misinformed,” rather than taking the time to truly consider their perspectives, we all lose out on a rich and honest dialogue.