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Rail trail article squeaks by in Lynnfield

By ADAM SWIFT

LYNNFIELD — It all came down to one vote for a controversial rail trail article at Monday night’s Annual Town Meeting.

By a 342-341 tally, Lynnfield voters gave selectmen authorization to enter into a 99-year lease agreement with the MBTA for use of the old Newburyport rail line bed for possible future use as a recreation path.

The Friends of the Lynnfield Rail Trail advocated for moving forward with the project. The majority of the proposed 4.4 mile trail, about 2.5 miles, would run through Lynnfield near the center of town and over Reedy Meadow.

Patrick Curley of the friends group said the town has $7.1 million in state department of transportation money set aside for the project. The approval of the article does not commit the town to building the rail trail or committing any funds, Curley said.

“This is an incredible free resource,” Curley said of the potential of the MBTA leasing the property for free. “But we need to prove to the state that we have acquisition authority.”

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Although the vote now gives selectmen authority to enter into a lease with the MBTA, Selectman Richard Dalton said there are still too many questions about the project that make him uncomfortable.

“My concern is looking at the process and due diligence for the project,” said Dalton. Dalton said he is not necessarily against a rail trail project, but said there are too many questions to move forward at this point.

In other town meeting action, voters approved spending $2.2 million for a new middle school track and other fields projects. Voters also approved several articles establishing bylaws prohibiting the sale of recreational marijuana in town.

 

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