~Submitted by Jessica Uhing-Luedde
For those of us who live in the neighborhoods surrounding the Reformatory Branch Trail, the November Town Meeting vote is not about changes to a recreational space. Paving this Trail will have a permanent and negative impact on the environment in which we live. We write this letter in the hope that it will help voters understand how paving the Trail will impact those of us who live nearby.
Proponents of paving argue that the Town should pave the Trail to increase safety and accessibility and to protect our environment by encouraging less car travel. We believe that paving will decrease safety. Children from neighborhoods all along the Trail currently use it to travel to school, activities, or to see friends; this will not be safe on what will essentially become a bike highway.
One speaker at the March 2022 Town Meeting noted that in order to protect our admittedly imperfect environment, we must learn to live within it instead of altering it to suit our needs. Those of us who live near the Trail routinely see too many types of animals to list crossing the Trail to visit our yards; this is their home, too, and paving the Trail will further encroach on their space. Over the past year, residents of Bedford have debated whether the potential environmental benefits of paving this path outweigh the actual costs of this paving project. We believe that they do not.
Proponents and opponents of this project agree that the plan to pave is “decades old.” Originally, this project was conceived as a link in a chain connecting Concord, and its much higher population, to the Minuteman Bikeway. No matter how we vote at Town Meeting the envisioned environmental benefits of that original plan will not occur because Concord has voted not to pave its portion of the Trail. Our understanding of how to best steward our natural environment has changed since the inception of this project. Residents of Bedford have moved in and moved out. We believe the current residents of Bedford can find a way to repair our infrastructure, ensure accessibility in our town, and care for our environment without turning the Trail into a Bikeway.
Residents of Evans Avenue:
Heath and Jessica Luedde Becky Venuti
Doug and Kelly Horton
Jim and Kyoko Weisman
Rich and Rhona Barlevy
Gustavo and Maria Blando
Joe and Mary Lou Esposito
Mike, Dori, and Emma Pulizzi
Elliott and Arlinda Johnson
and Sharon Curtin Keane
Steve and Meredith Wasko