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October 2012 - Vol 1, Issue 2
In This Issue
What's the meeting about?
Please respect the opinions of others
Why not leave things the way they are?
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Squannacook Greenways needs YOU at the October 23 Townsend Board of Selectmen meeting!


On Tuesday, October 23rd, at 7 pm at Memorial Hall in Townsend, there will be a critical Board of Selectmen meeting that may decide the fate of the Squannacook River Rail Trail. At this meeting, the public is being invited to express their views. We understand everyone has busy lives, but if you believe having a rail trail would make life in our town better, this meeting is perhaps the most important chance to make your voice heard.  And please feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone else who might be interested in attending.

What's the meeting about?

As you may know, Squannacook Greenways is very close to a conditional agreement with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) in which DCR will sign the railroad lease and Squannacook Greenways will build and maintain the rail trail. The remaining DCR requirement is a letter from both Townsend and Groton that defines their level of commitment.


In Townsend, we need a letter from the Board of Selectmen containing two statements:

  1. That the town intends to pursue construction of approximately 900 feet of sidewalk in the Townsend Harbor area. A sidewalk design has already been budgeted. The rail trail depends on the sidewalk to accommodate abutter, historic, and environmental issues along this stretch.
  2. That the town is willing to provide reactive response of emergency services.

At a previous meeting on August 14, 2012, Squannacook Greenways requested the letter from the Board of Selectmen, but their response was mixed and they postponed their vote pending feedback from the Townsend police department. On October 23, we will have another chance.


We need YOU at the October 23 meeting of the Townsend Board of Selectmen, along with all of your family and friends who support the rail trail. Young people will be especially helpful. This is a critical meeting for the rail trail, so consider speaking up!


Here are some of the reasons to support the Squannacook River Rail Trail:
  1. It will provide free recreation close to home.

  2. It will parallel Route 119, providing a safe biking and walking alternative to that dangerous road.

  3. With the non-profit approach, the town will take on no environmental liability for the MBTA land.

  4. The private sector (the non-profit Squannacook Greenways) will be building and maintaining the trail, not any town or state agency. The town will not be required to spend money on either the construction or maintenance of the rail trail itself. But we do need the town's help to design the 900 feet of sidewalk in the South Road area where the trail will leave the rail bed and use a sidewalk instead. This is because we do not have the right to build a sidewalk.

  5. The trail will connect many destinations in Townsend, including Harbor Village, the high school, Townsend Harbor, Central Plaza, and Townsend center.

  6. Rail trails build a sense of community.

  7. Building this trail is projected to inject about half a million dollars into jobs right here in town.


For the latest, you can always go to our website -  http://www.SquannacookGreenways.org - or like us on Facebook -  http://www.facebook.com/SquannacookRiverRailTrail  

We hope to see you at the meeting!
Bike McDonalds
Please attend the Oct.23rd meeting and help give give our kids an alternative to riding their bikes on Route 119.

Please respect the opinions of others

We do ask that all supporters of the rail trail be respectful of those who oppose it. It is important to note that all rail trails face some opposition, and it is natural for abutters to have fears of what a rail trail might mean. Here are two key points we always make when addressing abutter concerns:

  1. Squannacook Greenways is committed to working individually with each abutter once we gain the legal right to build the trail. This is a responsibility we considered important from the very beginning of our effort, and we are very pleased to have two members of our board of directors (Peter Cunningham and Bob Hargraves) be abutters themselves to the Nashua River Rail Trail.

  2. The experience of many hundreds of rail trails in our country have pointed time and again to the same conclusion: that when a rail trail is built, abutters find that their concerns are unrealized. Often abutters have fewer problems living next to an active rail trail than an abandoned rail bed. The bottom line is that there is a reason we were able to recruit abutters to the Nashua River Rail Trail to be on our board - most abutters to rail trails enjoy living next to them.


The view of Squannacook Greenways board member Bob Hargraves home from the Nashua River Rail Trail.


Why not leave things the way they are?
Sign behind Harbor Village

One comment opponents to the Squannacook River Rail Trail often make is that we should simply leave well enough alone. In this newsletter, our non-profit has discussed some of the reasons to build the Squannacook River Rail Trail. However, its important to understand what it will mean to our towns if we don't build this trail. All the land along the rail bed is owned completely by the MBTA - it is not a right-of-way. The MBTA does not allow public access to any of their land in Townsend or Groton. While they have not yet posted signs along the entire rail bed, they have posted "No Trespassing" signs in the two areas were they did work in the past decade - behind Harbor Village and at the trestle in Townsend center. So what about the many places on MBTA property that Townsend and Groton residents now treat as public land? Be it months, years, or decades, the pattern is clear - over time, access will eventually be lost. The only way to ensure legal access to this land is to build this rail trail.