Letter to the Editor: Parents of Bedford Children’s Center Concerned about Health Impacts from Bikeway Construction

~Submitted by Stacy Parr-Paskali (for 17 Families ) 


As parents our primary job is to protect the health and well-being of our children. The proposed Minuteman Bikeway Extension project and creation of a culvert on Concord Rd pose serious health risks to the children of Bedford Children’s Center. Construction would take place yards from where infants and toddlers sleep, play, and learn. Prolonged exposure to construction noise could cause permanent hearing damage and will disrupt sleep needed for healthy brain development. Even low-level, repetitive noise has been shown to cause stress and anxiety in young children. The dust produced could cause respiratory issues in developing lungs and the constant vibration of construction can result in headaches, nausea, and anxiety.
 
Currently, the children spend most of their time outside, but construction will cause some playgrounds to be unusable, limiting the children’s exposure to nature. BCC often takes the kids on nature walks on the existing trail, but the increased speed of cyclists on a paved path will make this a more dangerous outing. The proximity of permanent picnic tables to the playground and strangers’ ability to watch our kids at school is alarming. The project will also detour traffic through the parking lot removing numerous teacher parking spaces as well as 2 mature trees on BCC’s lot and neighboring private property.
 
We’ve brought our concerns to the town, and it is clear that they put little thought into how a project of this magnitude would affect some of our youngest residents and have done so little due diligence that they were unaware that BCC is open during the summer. We were provided with some things the town “could look into” or “might be able to find budget for”, but no tangible action plan on how these very real issues will be mitigated. We love this town because of its commitment to children but were disappointed in the town’s response and now have little faith that our kids’ safety will be a priority during construction. We, as parents, cannot gamble with our children’s health and well-being on paving a path that is already used by cyclists and pedestrians alike. Please join us in November to vote NO on the eminent domain article.
 
Signed by: 

Zach & Melissa Bornemann
Kenda & Jimmy Carlson
Jackie & Brian Clarkson
Eryn & Rajan Eddy
Jessica & Pavel Espinal
Dennis & Danielle Fantone

Carin & Bill Folman
Merrill & Brian Genoa
Cassie & Greg Hinz 
Gary & Nicole Maynard
Lindsay & Ryan McCarthy
Stacy & Jeremy Paskali

Jasmin Hofstetter & Carlos Rodríguez
Carey & Mike Sclafani
Jill & Brian Shapiro
Mike & Katie Tecci
Elizabeth & James Walsh


The opinions expressed in Letters to the Editor are those of the writer, not The Bedford Citizen.


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McClain, John
3 months ago

Letter from the DPW outlining all the steps the Town will take to minimize impact Bedford Children’s Center during the 2-4 months required to put in the underpass at Concord Rd.

https://www.bedfordma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif6866/f/uploads/minuteman_bikeway_memo_to_boh_10-14-22.pdf

A lot of this was mentioned at the Community Forum on the 17th, but there is more detail in the letter.

Stacy Parr-Paskali
3 months ago
Reply to  McClain, John

The memo has inaccuracies and doesn’t address all of our concerns. The owner of BCC has offered to address these with people who want more info and even give tours of the property. They can email the school.

Tim Bennett
3 months ago

The entitlement of these parents is on full display with regards to how they view public land. Short term construction on one segment of the path poses no danger with regards to air quality to anyone more than a few meters away, and concerns about “constant low level noise” and “vibrations” are hard to take seriously given the proximity to Route 62, which is directly adjacent to the center. The new stone dust shoulder should actually make it easier for children to walk on the path without fear of collision since they will be separated from the bikes on the path (although I have never felt unsafe on the Minuteman bikeway in my years of running and walking on it). They complain of a lack of due diligence by the town, but the owner of the BCC is a long term resident and bought the property knowing that talks have been going on with regards to improving the trail for a decade at this point. In response to the absurd claim of picnic tables posing a potential danger to children, I would point to a similar arrangement at Kid’s Club and it’s adjacent picnic tables. The claim falls apart even more when you actually look at the proposed plans. The distance between the picnic tables and playground is almost the same as the current parking lot! And they are separated by the path in the current design, as well as a fair amount of trees and shrubs as visible in the plans. If you, as parents feel that these risks are still too great to bear, I’m sure the growing demand for high quality day cares, especially in communities like ours, will ensure that other families will be more than willing to take your place at BCC.

Brian C. O'Donnell
3 months ago

“The proximity of permanent picnic tables to the playground
and strangers’ ability to watch our kids at school is alarming.”

I urge residents to consider the sentence quoted above and to contemplate what, if anything, can be built anywhere in terms of infrastructure- playgrounds, ballfields, sidewalks, parks- without crossing into the twilight zone of exaggerated fear represented in this submission. “Permanent picnic tables” are now a symbol of potential child endangerment.? Let us debate the merits of the path extension without this kind of hyperbole.

Stacy Parr-Paskali
3 months ago

Picnic tables looking into a daycare on private property where kids play outside in the summer in their bathing suits is in appropriate. There is a different expectation of privacy at a public playground.

Laura Keating
3 months ago

I was thinking the very same thing. It will be a crazy amount of air pollution from the construction. I am not 💯 certain, but it appears that the planned cutting of trees will greatly decrease, if not eliminate the natural shade provided to the children as they play outside. I also agree, the proposed spot for the picnic tables is not acceptable – it should not be that close to little ones.

Tim Bennett
3 months ago
Reply to  Laura Keating

The concerns of a private business owner who purchased this daycare knowing it’s adjacent to a far busier arterial road as well as having lived in Bedford for a number of years before while knowing that there has been discussion around paving the bike path for a decade should not matter in the context of a public decision like this. If the buisness can survive the pandemic, it can survive a some noise (which is likely comparable to the road noise outside anyway) during a segment of the overall construction. The distance also renders the air pollution a non-issue when taking into account the distance between the path and center, as tests consistently show no health effects beyond long term exposure within a hand full of meters of equipment. Though the path may be close to the center, having visited the area dozens of times, I can assure you there are no hazards. I would also point out the proximity of the picnic tables in the center of town to Kids Club. Despite there being even less tree coverage between the two, I have never heard of any problems arising, so I see no reason to be alarmist about an arguably less impactful arrangement here.

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