Leonard Simon said Oct. 29 is a terrific day for the Town of Sudbury after he and the other members of the Board of Selectmen voted for a full-build design for the town's portion of the 25-mile Bruce Freeman Rail Trail.
According to Simon, the MassDot standard design study will cost about $250,000. The Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail have offered put up $58,000 toward the study, and residents have already voted to set aside $25,000.
"We’re going to ask the Community Preservation Committee to allocate $175,000 from Community Preservation Act (to pay for the rest of the design study)," Simon said.
When designed and constructed to MassDOT standards, a rail trail is eligible for construction funding from the state and federal government. The town pays for the design, typically 10 percent of the total cost of the rail trail, and the state and federal government pays for construction, which is generally 90 percent of the total cost.
"This is a bargain by any measure," Simon said in a memo submitted to the Board. "The town gets a great functional amenity, and leverages its money 9 to 1 with state and federal funds. It makes good economic sense."
Simon was critical of Conservation Coordinator Debbie Dineen, along with DPW Director Bill Place and Director of Planning and Community Development Jody Kablack, when they presented the Board with four possible plans for the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail in August.
None of the proposals were in accordance to what the Town voted for in March.
"I’ve very pleased with the votes taken today," Simon said. "The votes reflect what the town had voted for in spring of 2012, both at ballot box and Town Meeting. More important than what I want, it’s what the town has expressed, its desire for the rail trail and it’s what I’m supporting. They coincide with my own, but it's not my crusade. It’s the town’s desire."
During the March Annual Town Election, the Town was asked whether to create a recreational trail on the old right of way of the trail. The Town approved the ballot, 2,288-1,040.
The other questions was will the Town pay for 25 percent of the design work for the trail. That also passed by more than a 2-to-1 margin.
"I’m hopeful and expecting the CPC will accept the request," Simon said. "If it happens, it goes before the voters in May at Town Meeting. The voters can then vote for expenditure of the CPA funds and decide if the town wishes to support that."
All 18 miles of the trail, from Lowell to the Concord/Sudbury border, have been designed to MassDOT standards, Simon said, and all construction to date and planned construction complies with MassDOT standards.
"I think it's extremely important," Chairman John Drobinski said of the 25-mile trail. "We've been talking about this for a number of years. We all agree it's time to get this important project going for the community. It's a great step forward."