Opinion

Letter to the Editor: See you on the rail trail

Dear fellow Lynnfield residents: On Tuesday, April 9, we will be asked to vote at Town Meeting to express our feelings about the proposed rail trail in our town.

The question before voters is: Are you in favor of the town of Lynnfield continuing to pursue efforts to develop a recreational path along the unused MBTA right-of-way, known as the Wakefield-Lynnfield rail trail project?

Since the 2017 Town Meeting, when the rail trail project moved forward based on one vote, I have continued to see op-eds expressing opposition to this project. I feel compelled to write in support of the trail and encourage you to learn more about this proposed recreational path for yourself.

A group of local residents, known as the Friends of the Lynnfield Rail Trail, has been working hard to gather information about the proposed trail for many years. Please take advantage of their efforts and check out their website: http://www.lynnfieldrailtrail.org/home.html.

Personally, I have found their information to be especially informative about the expected costs and benefits of the trail. I’ll cite a few of the many facts and quotes found there.

First, the expected costs are just not that high. The town’s cost to lease the land for the trail from the MBTA for 99 years is zero. The cost to maintain the trail will be approximately $5,000 per year, and it is expected that volunteer efforts and donations can supply much of this.

Even if no volunteer support is provided, Lynnfield’s current Director of Public Works John Tomasz has conservatively estimated ongoing annual maintenance costs at $6,800 per year plus occasional boardwalk repair of $2,000.

Two, what about a cost of increased crime? There is just no reason to expect that would be the case. According to the Friends’ research, interviews with chiefs of police from Danvers, Topsfield, Newburyport, Bedford and Lexington have all indicated that properties along rail trails experience levels of crime that are either similar to or less than other parts of their communities.

So just roughly speaking, if we divide $7,800 per year by approximately 4,200 homes in Lynnfield, we are talking about a local recreational path that costs peanuts: less than two dollars a year per Lynnfield household.

Now, what about the benefits? Even if you don’t plan to use the trail yourself, there’s a good chance it will increase your property’s value.

The Friends learned through interviews with real estate brokers in Newburyport, Danvers, Lexington and Bedford, who have listed and sold properties along their rail trails have strongly stated that the presence of the rail trail had no detrimental effect on the marketing of their properties and in most instances had a positive impact on the value of the homes that they listed.

The greatest benefits will be to the Lynnfield residents who use the trail to get more exercise in the fresh air, enjoy recreation with neighbors, and appreciate the nature of Reedy Meadow. My husband and I moved to Lynnfield about four years ago, and we have two young kids. The great schools were a big draw, and so were other local amenities like Market Street, the Summer Concerts on the Town Commons, and yes, the possibility of a rail trail near our home.

In summary, the rail trail would be a low-cost, local amenity that gets more of us outside, walking and riding our bikes together. This is the kind of town I envisioned when I moved here, and the kind of town where I want to raise my kids. Whatever your own views, please be a well-informed voter on April 9. See you at Town Meeting, and hope to see you on the rail trail.

Kristen Cooper

Lynnfield

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