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Saugus: Residents will have a say in the design of the Northern Strand Community Trail next week

SAUGUS — Residents can have a say in the design of the Northern Strand Community Trail at a meeting planned for Wednesday night.

The Northern Strand Community Trail project is part of a commitment of at least $1.5 million by Gov. Charlie Baker’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ Gateway City Parks program to fund designs for the trail in Saugus, Everett, Lynn, Malden, and Revere. The money allows for the design of the bicycle and walking trail, development of bid-ready construction documents, and receipt of all necessary construction permits.

When completed, the trail will span 10.5 miles through Saugus, Everett, Lynn, Malden, and Revere. While Saugus is not a gateway city, it is benefiting from the program because it is surrounded by gateway cities and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs wants to keep the trail design consistent.

Hosted by the town in conjunction with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the Nov. 7 meeting will focus on elements of the project’s preliminary design. Landscape architect firm Brown, Richard and Rowe, Inc. will also be present.

This will be the second in a series of meetings for the town’s 2.5-mile portion of the trail. The first meeting, held earlier this year, gave residents an initial opportunity to learn about the project, ask questions, and share ideas.

“We hope residents will join us to learn more about this important community project and use this opportunity to comment on the preliminary trail design,” said Town Manager Scott Crabtree. “This public meeting is the second step for this project. The more the design team is able to learn about the community’s needs, the better the project will be for the residents and the town of Saugus overall.”
Safer crossings, wayfinding, and landscape amenities are major components of the improvement project.

Selectmen and Planning Board members have heard from dozens of residents who want the money to be used to improve safety at trail crossings.

Robert Hoffman and his wife Judy were struck along the trail in January. Six months later, he  limped into Town Hall to demand safer streets for pedestrians.

“I think speed bumps would really make everybody slow down, especially in front of schools and in front of centers,” said Robert Hoffman, who doesn’t think installing lights and stop signs will be enough. “It would be a far more inexpensive way to control your traffic and I would greatly appreciate it. Especially my wife, who can no longer walk. She’s been crippled.”

Across town, there were 16 crashes involving pedestrians in 2017, according to accident reports obtained by The Item through a public records request. There were nine crashes this year as of August.

In May, a 24-year-old Lynn man was struck at the intersection of Walnut Street and Walden Pond Avenue while crossing the street wearing headphones.

In 2016, while a 9-year-old and his 15-year-old brother waited for their mother to make a quick stop at Kohl’s, they walked to Walgreens to kill time. A car stopped to let the boys cross Walnut Street, but a 29-year-old Saugus man driving a Nissan Rogue passed the car, striking the 9-year-old in the crosswalk.

The driver turned right into the Walgreens parking lot, dragging him beneath his car.

“I’m very concerned about being hit and reliving it every night is a nightmare,” said Hoffman. “You know my wife and how strong she was. She cannot move because of this.”

The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Saugus Town Hall.                                                                         

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