May 15, 2017
PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
From left, Camden Alexander, Finn Conner, Lucas Gunther and Brody Laker show their support for the rail trail.
By GAYLA CAWLEY
SWAMPSCOTT — Town Meeting members approved allocating funds to allow officials to move forward with plans for a proposed rail trail on Monday night.
After much debate, Town Meeting members voted 210-56 to approve a warrant article, requesting $850,000 for the design and engineering of the trail location within the National Grid corridor, as well as the legal fees and costs for acquisition of the easement rights.
The two-plus mile, 10-foot wide trail would run from the Swampscott Train Station to the Marblehead line at Seaview Avenue, connecting with the Marblehead rail trail, which also links to trails in Salem.
Officials have said $240,000 of the requested Town Meeting funds would be used to hire professionals for design and engineering costs. About $610,000 would be for acquisition of easement rights, where the town would work with the property owners (National Grid and/or other parties) to secure the rights. This may be done through eminent domain, or by donation/gift of the land.
The Town Meeting funds allocated are not for construction of the trail, which will be paid with donations, grants, and private funds, officials said.
Peter Kane, director of community development, said that the utility corridor is made up of 11 parcels of property. National Grid pays property taxes for all 11 parcels, but doesn’t hold clear title on all of them. Through a title process, numerous owners have been identified, which could include abutters.
Town Meeting members approved a $66.63 million town budget, which includes $28,197,500 allocated to the schools.
Voters also approved Fire Chief Kevin Breen’s request for a $645,000 replacement of a Engine 22, a 1997 Emergency One Hurricane Cab, which serves as a reserve piece. The replacement was among other capital project funding requests that passed.
With the funds allocated, Engine 21, a 2009 Spartan that serves as the frontline piece, would become the reserve piece and the new vehicle would become the frontline piece.
Town Meeting will reconvene Tuesday at 7 p.m., where the rest of the articles on the warrant will be taken up.
Gayla Cawley can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.