The Guilford Board of Selectmen recently voted on whether to hold a new public informational meeting on the proposed Route 1 Shoreline Greenway Trail section between Boston Street and the Madison line.
The vote was 2-2, with one selectman absent. Selectmen Charles Havra and Joe Mazza voted “yes,” Cynthia Cartier and Gary MacElhinney voted “no,” and Carl Balestracci didn’t attend. According to town rules, a tie vote is registered as “no.” It means no action can be taken, and it appears that there will be no public hearing about that trail section in the near future. That leaves the Route 1 project in limbo, as it has been since the selectmen voted against the town’s design for that section in January.
A Vote Only On Setting a Date for a Meeting
As First Selectman Mazza emphasized to a local reporter, the Sept. 5 vote was only on whether to set a date for an informational meeting. It was not a vote on the trail or any specific project related to it. We’re concerned that, although a recent Zip06 article about the vote is accurate, the headline (Another ‘No” for the Shoreline Greenway Trail in Guilford) is potentially misleading.
A Wide “Sidewalk” from the Town Center to Madison?
From the quotes attributed to Mazza and Town Engineer Jim Portley, it’s apparent they’ve been seeking a way to address neighbors’ concerns about the original Route 1 plan while using the nearly $900,000 in federal and state funds allocated to build the Shoreline Greenway Trail in Guilford to meet an objective of a 2002 transportation study: a sidewalk from the town center toward Madison.
As Mazza said, “We were talking about extending sidewalks out from the center of town … all the way to the Madison line with the expectation that maybe in the future that Madison would have sidewalks, too.”
Seeking Residents’ Input on New Ideas
Portley said he wanted residents’ input on changes he was considering to the Route 1 design—including moving the trail closer to the road to minimize vegetation removal, narrowing it to eight feet and surfacing it with concrete to make it look like a sidewalk. Because the eight-foot width complies with the legal definition of a “trail” and not a “sidewalk,” abutting property owners would not be responsible for snow removal.
Committed as Ever to Bike/Ped Safety and Accessibility
The future of the Route 1 section remains uncertain, especially with a local election coming up in November, and the decision is up to the people and elected officials of Guilford. Shoreline Greenway Trail will continue to advocate for the values that guided our idea for a trail in the first place: safe, accessible walking and biking throughout the Shoreline; better health for the people who live, work and visit here and for our environment; and a more vibrant economy coupled with a better quality of life across the region.