Wednesday Deadline for Williamstown Residents to Weigh in on Bike Path Delay
And it invited residents to do the same, but they had better hurry.
The Berkshire Metropolitan Planning Organization is seeking public comment on the Transportation Improvement Program for fiscal years 2019-23. The TIP as drafted includes a plan to delay the Williamstown-North Adams bike trail.
The deadline for comments is Wednesday, May 15, at 5 p.m.
The Select Board agreed to get its thoughts on the record.
"We are writing to express our disappointment and frustration that the community is faced with a proposal to again delay, for another fiscal year, the North Adams-Williamstown Bicycle/Pedestrian Trail, Project 607254," reads a letter on town letterhead drafted by Select Board member Andrew Hogeland, who serves on the Berkshire MPO.
The delay, Hogeland and Town Manager Jason Hoch pointed out on Monday, is because of decisions being made in Boston by Massachusetts Department of Transportation officials.
"This was DOT in Boston, not DOT in Lenox," Hoch said, referring to the District 1 office in Lenox.
In answer to a question from his colleague Jeffrey Thomas, Hogeland said he has heard different explanations why the project is being delayed.
"Everybody explains it a little bit differently," Hogeland said, saying he as addressed the question to different DOT officials. "Wetlands permitting may take longer than thought. Our project split off the North Adams project, and this [delay] brings them back together; there's a thought that there could be efficiencies doing them together. And deadlines are not being met.
"There's a melange of reasons, I would say."
The North Adams portion of the so-called Mohawk Bike Path, which would pick up after the Williamstown portion exits onto Route 2 after passing through the Spruces, had been delayed because of opposition from some city residents over the proposed route.
By contrast, there is general agreement and widespread support for the route through Williamstown — from a point along the Hoosic River near intersection of North Street and Syndicate Road to the former Spruces mobile home park property.
And there is frustration among town residents and officials about continual delays.
"I'm tempted to write a letter of my own that would be twice as strong [as the one approved by the board]," Select Board Chair Anne O'Connor said on Monday night. "I was at Riverfest last weekend, and there were a number of families and children who had ridden their bikes there on Route 2 on the sidewalk, over uneven pavement, crossing commercial businesses. If we had our bike path, they would have had a much safer trip.
"I think it's intolerable we've had this delay foisted upon us."
Hogeland said anyone who wishes to send their comments to the MPO can write to email@example.com and reference project No. 607254.
In other business on Monday, the board discussed plans for the May 21 annual town meeting, which will see numerous warrant articles bundled together as part of a consent agenda that could — potentially — allow the meeting to take a single vote to pass several routine items rather than voting item by item.
Hoch and the Select Board members stressed that any voter has the right to request a hold on any agenda item, a procedural move that will take said item out of the "bundle" and allow fuller conversation.
"If you're in the audience and want us to talk about an article a little more, you can ask for a hold," Hoch said. "If you call out, 'Hold,' that doesn't bind you to asking a more specific question [about the article].
"You don't have to have a reason [for the hold]."
Hoch also reported to the board on Monday that the annual town cleanup on May 4 went well and any residents who want to do their own cleanup are welcome to pick up yellow bags and borrow yellow vests — to provide visibility along road sides — at Town Hall.
O'Connor, who spearheaded the town cleanup initiative a couple of years ago, said that this year's campaign attracted 33 volunteers, and she is contemplating a fall town cleanup event. She encouraged anyone interested in participating to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: bike path, MassDOT,
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