Selectmen Hear More Updates on Bruce Freeman Rail Trail

The issue that dominated Town Meeting last year continued with several items last week.


If there was one continuing news item Westford continued to see in 2012, it was the issue of parking along the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail.

And while it's 2013, that didn't stop the Board of Selectmen from hearing more updates on the topic.

Westford director of land use planning Angus Jennings presented an update on the Cresthaven parcel, a small piece of land on Acton Road along the trail just north of Carlisle Road.

Since a subdivision approval in 1988, a cloud has been on the title of the property, which at one point was a potential location for a parking area near the trail.

Jennings informed the board that issue at hand, whether the boundary of the property in its deed was the northern or southern stone wall on the property, had been resolved by placing the boundary at the midpoint between the two walls.

Neighborhood resident Tim Walsh asked the board whether this would mean the property was still being considered for potential parking, with chairman Kelly Ross replying that Town Meeting has expressed interest in investigating the issue, but further information would be needed before a determination could be made.

The meeting also held an update on a plans for a parking lot along the trail in Acton known as "The Acton Plan", with money for the project being approved by the Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization last year.

Jennings reported that the project just over the border from Westford has hit the 75 percent design benchmark and is projected to have 14 spots, likely eliminating the need for parking in Westford.

A report on a conservation restriction on the Vose Parcel, another contentious point in the Bruce Freeman parking debate, was postponed to Jan. 22.

westford resident January 21, 2013 at 05:17 PM
As per the above: Jennings reported that the project just over the border from Westford has hit the 75 percent design benchmark and is projected to have 14 spots, likely eliminating the need for parking in Westford. Lets stop wasting time on this b/c adding a parking lot adds expense to a town that doesn't need any additional financial burden. There are more important things to be focused on right now. The area is a residental zone. There is no need to create all this work trying to fit in a parking lot that isn't allowed anyway.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) January 21, 2013 at 05:34 PM
Hi, Just to clarify, the Acton parking lot would be allowed under the zoning regulations in Acton, and the money is already in place and it's coming from the state (through federal grants), not the town. That's what Jennings was referring to there. He also discussed the Cresthaven parcel, which is a separate issue, albeit tangentially related in the broader context of Bruce Freeman Rail Trail parking.
westford resident January 21, 2013 at 08:08 PM
exactly! So why are we wasting town employees' time even discussing parking in Westford!
Sam January 21, 2013 at 08:32 PM
Because the Friends of The Bruce Freeman Trail have their plans and have their town official allies and will not stop until they get their way. End of story. They will not stop even if there is not a need.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) January 21, 2013 at 08:36 PM
The answer there lies from the $5,000 gift accepted at 2012 Annual Town Meeting from the Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail to study the possibility of parking. In the past (and here, mentioned again in this story), the precedent set by the Board of Selectmen that I have heard is to respect the wishes of Town Meeting as much as possible. P.S. - Sometime, hopefully soon, I'll try to get the links to all of these stories, and all stories on specific long term subjects, on specific pages and topic pages.
westford resident January 21, 2013 at 10:16 PM
this was a contentious town meeting so i'd dare say that it respects the wishes of the town. Yes the articles supporting parking won but not by large margins. It was a bit shady that the article about the $5K was changed at the meeting to be a gift as opposed to a town expense. That was done primarily to garner support.
Sam January 21, 2013 at 10:22 PM
The wishes of town meeting means the wishes of the BOS and their 150 minions. TM is the worst.
Parker Village Resident January 23, 2013 at 06:53 PM
The real question is: did the Friends ever hand over the $5K to the town? They seem very happy to continue wasting town money on this while budgets of real town needs continue to be cut. And, just a reminder that the zoning for Cresthaven is RA which prohibits municipal parking.I researched the zoning when I bought my house and expect it to be enforced. Just because the Friends are in the back pocket of a few BOS members doesn't mean we should all just sit by quietly while they push their agenda through. And, finally, park at Hart pond until the Acton parking is available and get on your bike and bike! Sheesh, the Westford part of the trail is tiny...
Dan D. January 23, 2013 at 07:04 PM
How many people use the Trail? Is it a relative handful compared to taxpayers living in the Trail area? How about a little perspective on the relative importance of these "nice" things to have?
Sam January 23, 2013 at 07:23 PM
errr so is Connell Drive but those people had municipal parking forced onto them, Cresthaven is no different.
Mike January 23, 2013 at 07:28 PM
How many people use the trail? Easily hundreds on weekend days in the summer.
westford resident January 23, 2013 at 08:18 PM
It is a regional trail. How many people from surrounding areas *need* to park in westford? How many people in Westford are truly upset about parking in Chelmsford? I know of three people from westford that feel they need to park in westford and I"ve only seen one of them on the trail. These hundreds come from all directions and dont have to park at the current terminus
Dan D. January 23, 2013 at 08:18 PM
Yep, handful.
Parker Village Resident January 23, 2013 at 08:34 PM
How many of these "hundreds" are Westford residents and taxpayers?
Mike January 23, 2013 at 09:10 PM
Not sure, Parker Village...Perhaps you could stop them all and ask to see their papers.
westford resident January 24, 2013 at 01:26 AM
If you stop them I bet none would complain about the lack of parking!
Vincent DiRico January 24, 2013 at 01:39 AM
I use it often and drive to Chelmsford in order to park and create a nice experience for my family. For me: the "not in my backyard" argument does not hold any water on this matter. There is a clear need and it should be done when the time and $ permit (CPA funds anyone?; at least then I will feel I got something out of all the CPA $).
Vincent DiRico January 24, 2013 at 01:40 AM
I just did above!
james January 24, 2013 at 01:52 AM
That's the spirit Mike! But really, pave paradise and put up a parking lot - so you can use your bike. ?
james January 24, 2013 at 01:58 AM
and if there's parking at Hart Pond, anywhere in Westford, then in Acton - we'll have 3 lots in 2 miles! What better way to highlight the stellar planning already done by 'the trail'!
westford resident January 24, 2013 at 02:45 AM
Vincent- we bought our houses in a residential area where we wouldn't expect to see parking. Why shouldn't we feel zoning laws should be followed? You would feel the same. In addition, there is really no need for parking in the residential areas of Westford since there is ample and parking that provides a "nice experience." Why the need? Have you ever had trouble getting a space. Why create the expense of the unnecessary parking? Also, the folks pushing for the parking are conniving and sneaky. They feel that they know whats best for the greater good ignoring the feelings of neighbors and actual needs. They are also antagonists. For example, there are numerous trails on conservation land throughout Westford. Trails that i've never seen marked that abut the rail trail are now marked and cleared. I believe it was done completely out of spite. One last point: for part of Westford, the Hart Pond parking is actually closer and it is sometimes faster to avoid the Boston Road/110 intersection and come to the trail thru Chelmsford.
Johnson January 24, 2013 at 10:31 AM
Westford is a mess! 12 years ago this was a great up and coming town but what I have seen over the past couple of years tells me we are backsliding like crazy... Development all over the place, only a matter of time before our playing cheap with the teachers results in the best leaving Westford and many of those that stay not having the sense of positive culture that's essential (talk to our teachers and they will readily tell you that's already taken pkace), drugs on the rise, a BOS that's most concerned with checking 2nd Amendment rights to bear arms and not all the dope at WA or the traffic and congestion. Time for a leadership change before the ship is run fully into the ground!
concernedresident March 19, 2013 at 08:07 PM
The real issue is that the Selectmen, who are supposed to be LEADING, are clearly not. They get it in their heads that they should respect the wishes of a minority of Residents at Town Meeting, rather than TELL those people that we have these things called ZONING BYLAWS and that they are to be respected. The reality is this, 2 Selectman are up for election, and there are two people running. Check them out, support them, and VOTE!! Jim Jarvie www.jimjarvie.com Scott Hazleton www.votescothazelton.com
Parker Village Resident March 25, 2013 at 01:44 PM
We are with both of you 100%!


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