Opinion

Letter to the Editor: Taking the trail to task

Despite numerous advantages and insider support along the way, the proponents of the Lynnfield rail trail have failed to produce a significant majority or clear direction for the town’s leadership and are now asking for town funding. 

Winning two votes by only the slimmest of margins has not slowed their persistent gnawing at town leadership to support and fund their proposal. Seems quite insensitive to champion an issue that divides your own town in two, especially for something as needless as a rail trail. There are no additional benefits to the town’s residents for having one more place to ride your bike. Unlike most every other suburban bedroom community in Massachusetts, Lynnfield considered exercise and safety as critical features in its design when the town constructed the network of sidewalks we all enjoy today. 

Many years ago, a former town administrator and managing assessor began the insider’s advantage as proponents of a rail trail. These advantages have been omnipresent throughout this multi-year process and continue through today. Proponents continue to use this advantage to hand-walk their proposal all the way to your checkbook. Proponents are passionate and have convinced themselves that a one-vote victory is somehow a mandate. 

I was surprised when, less than one week after a narrow victory in April’s vote, our town leadership petitioned the state for the same funding that proponents are now asking Lynnfield taxpayers to pony up. What happened to the representation of nearly half the town voting against this trail just days before? 

At Town Meeting two years ago, the presenter for the Friends of Lynnfield Rail Trail promised every voter in attendance that this path would be delivered at no cost to Lynnfield taxpayers. If he more accurately told the voters that night the town must pay $400,000 just to finish design, maybe one yes voter would have voted the other way and changed the course of this issue forever. Logically, town funding is required for this endeavor and it always will be. Funding design now with no guarantee that the trail will ever be built comes with this risk. 

The advantages have been significant and proponents have carefully navigated this process with a surgeon’s skill. For obvious reasons they have strategically avoided the need of a two-thirds majority vote, which seems to be required for most every other critical issue in Lynnfield except this one. Proponents have asked for a Thursday night vote. This request is not random. They believe their chances of winning are best on this night. 

Despite proponents’ careful navigation of town politics and influential support, their proposal has barely survived two votes, which has not fazed their coercion upon the rest of us. You can make a difference by voting against this funding on Sept. 26. Please reach out to one friend or one neighbor and bring them with you to this special town meeting and vote no and remind proponents that many in their community do not want a rail trail.  

Bob Breslow

 

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