Community preservation act (CPA) request – Ash St Sidewalk

From CPC meeting – Traffic & Sidewalk Committe presentation 2/1/2021

There are five requests for Weston CPA funds this spring. In no particular order, but rather the order in which I am paying attention to them, I thought I’d take a look at the general requests. Note that these have not gone through public hearing, and are not up for Town Meeting discussion yet. These are simply presentations to the Community Preservation Committee.

A sidewalk on Ash Street has been on the Sidewalk Master Plan since 2010. I am particularly familiar with it as during my brief tenure on the Tree Advisory group in June 2019, there were several of us, including Conservation department employees, who traipsed through the woods trying to find a meandering path that would save some old trees. As of this iteration, I see a straight line path which means tree death. But I am not sure about that.

The objective of the Ash Street Sidewalk is to “create safe recreational opportunities in existing car-centric public rights of way.” And there is a plan to “prioritize connections of existing networks of paths and trails.” These are both from the comments of Jay Doyle, chair of Traffic and Sidewalk, at the CPC meeting. (link here: He also mentioned all the good stuff for improved health, community and social aspects, etc.

Two other sidewalks were recently finished in Weston–the first at Brown and Winter Streets was completed in 2016 and covers 4,450 feet. It’s pretty mundane as sidewalks go, if you ask me…but it does have some good trees and is somewhat away from the road. The second was at Merriam Street, 2800 feet long, finished in 2020. Now that one is a beauty with a boardwalk in the wetlands. Much of the sidewalk is right on the side of the road, but it does dip into the trees as it gets close to the College Pond conservation area.

Now, the Ash Street ask is for 2000-ish feet at $400,000–$310K for construction, $31K for the construction manager plus a 20% contingency. I wonder if we used up the contingency for Merriam; my guess=yes. Ash Street will cost around $140 per linear foot compared with Brown at $115 per linear foot (back in 2016) and the numbers for Merriam were not available as of this presentation.

The Ash Street sidewalk will connect at the Reservoir trails (they are not ADA compliant and parking. It will cross the street and a driveway…where it will start hugging the road. This is very unfortunate–I am not sure why we are so terrified of asking the owner of that driveway if the sidewalk can move up and away from the road and 10 feet into his enormous property. Actually, count me in as being one who would like to ask him for a conservation restriction on his property. Oh, oops, no one cares. Anyway, speed limit is 40 mph on Ash Street right there. Merriam is 25-30 mph, ditto on Brown. So I don’t get it. Either the speed limit should be reduced or the sidewalk safely move into the trees….that’s my hope.

I assume it will be concrete and with a curb (that was not covered in the presentation). I will say that Ash Street is an incredibly beautiful tree-lined street and curbing will attack those lovely tree roots. So there will be tree death. On the map I see only one tree mentioned–one 17′ diameter tree. I have my doubts that this tree is the only one to go down. Watch this space.

Next the plan needs to go to Planning Board and Conservation Commission before getting onto the Town Meeting agenda. If all moves along, expect bidding shortly after TM and construction in July/August. I understand that the actual Ash Street will also be under construction at that point. Protect yourselves, trees…here comes “progress”.

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