I strongly support expanding community paths to make walking and cycling safer. I’ve been working hard to keep the construction of the path from Belmont down to Alewife moving along. See this thread for the twists and turns on the construction of the Alewife path. I am also enthusiastic about the vision of a path network connecting through Belmont out to Western Massachusetts.
The Belmont Citizens Forum, in a recent pamphlet distributed to town residents, makes a case for more paths in general and for a particular path route. I appreciate the advocacy for paths in general, but it is important to recognize that the route is so far unsettled.
The Citizens Forum has aquired a long strip of land that sits between the back yards of Channing Road residents and the railroad tracks. That strip of land stretches most of the way from Brighton Street by White Hen Pantry to Belmont Center. The Citizens Forum feels that is the best route for the community path. However, the property is landlocked and the connections are unclear at both ends of the property. In addition, there is opposition from many Channing road residents. There are also other potential route options.
I think the recent Forum pamphlet (written in a Q & A format) goes further than it should by answering definitively the question of where the path will be located — “From Belmont Center to Brighton Street it would parallel the commuter rail tracks on the railroad embankment between the westbound track and Channing Road.”
There is currently an MAPC study ongoing as to the best route for the path, so the state has not taken a position yet. Similarly, the Selectmen and other town bodies are a long way from taking a position on the question. All should be assured that the decision is still entirely open.
Regardless of that decision, I do support preserving a right of way behind the Sacca property (at the White Hen end of the Citizens Forum property) for potential transportation uses at some point in the future — whether or not a path gets built at some point in the next decade or two, it makes sense to preserve the right of way. Once relinquished for construction that right of way will be lost to all future generations. The state Department of Transportation is reviewing this issue.