Planners would like to make the town's byways more bike-friendly, such as on Route 7, but realize there is little they can do.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Planning Board on Tuesday continued its work on revising the town's 11-year-old master plan and continued its focus on making the town friendlier to bikers and walkers.
Tuesday's topic was the transportation section of the plan, and the discussion echoed an earlier meeting at which the panel examined the open space and recreation section of the document.
Once again, the talk came around to two-wheelers.
The 2002 master plan recommends, among other things, that the town promote "non-vehicular modes of transportation" and address pedestrian walkways linking Walden and South streets in the central village and along Syndicate Road on the north side of town.
The current planners heartily endorsed both initiatives, while accepting the reality that there is only so much the town can do in either of the specific cases mentioned.
"I'd like to see pedestrian walkways along Cold Spring Road going down by the bridge and toward the Bee Hill Road intersection, but there's nowhere to put it," Pat Dunlavey said. "We're talking about hazardous places to walk."
Chairman Chris Winters agreed that neither Cold Spring nor Syndicate lend themselves to the creation of space for walkers and bikers, but he noted it is a goal worth keeping.
"It's technically infeasible, but I wouldn't mind leaving it [in the master plan]," Winters said. "That is a heavily used pedestrian way, rightly or wrongly, by college students who go running there and get almost creamed around every corner. I wouldn't mind leaving as an aspirational goal a safer Syndicate Road."
"I agree completely," Dunlavey said. "No one needs to convince me of the need for better pedestrian infrastracture."
Later, Dunlavey argued that the master plan should include even more of a push for pedals.
"It seems to me it should address the safety of biking throughout town," he said. "We don't mention Water Street/Route 43, but there are people who have been talking about that for years."
Planner Ann McCallum pointed to another stretch of road, U.S. Route 7, that would benefit from more space for bicyclists.
"When [the commonwealth] redid the paving in front of the high school, they put in wide shoulders where it was easy to put in wide shoulders, but not where it was difficult," McCallum said. "You cannot ride from the Store at Five Corners up past the high school without going through traffic.
"We should be doing everything we can to encourage people to ride bikes to school rather than fill the parking lot with their cars."
Town Planner Andrew Groff, who advises the board, noted that there are places where the town can and cannot call the shots when it comes to road design.
"Towns have no jurisdiction over state highways, but town highways are a different matter," Groff said.
In other business on Tuesday, the Planning Board voted unanimously to approve a development plan for a rental property Charles Fox developed from a restored carriage house on Water Street.
McCallum also reported to her colleagues about a conversation she had with town's public works director.
"I had a long talk with Tim Kaiser about putting wires underneath the ground ... and the 'executive summary' is it's a non-starter," McCallum said.
"The people involved, which are Verizon, Time-Warner and National Grid ... do not like burying these things. They would prefer them to be up in the air where they are easier to access. Even if the occasional tree drops on them, it's much easier ... than when a problem occurs under ground."