Pathway Sees Slow Progress

            While the October 14 meeting of the Marion Open Space Acquisition Commission did not offer updates on the Point Road multi-use path or open space maintenance, MOSAC Chairman John Rockwell took the opportunity to give listeners some backstory where it concerns certain aspects of the shared-use pathway that runs from Fairhaven into Mattapoisett and remains fragmented there and in Marion.

            Not to be confused with the Point Road Path that has a regular place on MOSAC’s monthly agenda, discussion around the shared-use path meant to ultimately span the South Coast and the entire length of Cape Cod touches on obscure points of history in the Tri-Town.

            Reading a map, MOSAC member Debbie Ewing referenced a green line indicating open space area in Washburn Park where the path would intersect.

            As Rockwell described the direction of the 10-foot-wide bike path that emanates from the Mattapoisett town line, it will cross Route 105 on the east side of the child-care facility near the Brew Fish restaurant.

            “That is the location of the New Bedford-Onset trolley line,” noted Rockwell, alluding to the erstwhile rail system that connected the South Coast from the late 19th century into the 1920s. “That piece of property, which is under the control of (MOSAC) goes down past Parkway Lane, so it intersects with what we refer to as Washburn Lane, which is really just a private easement.”

            Rockwell said that traveling up the paved segment of Washburn Lane approximately 200 feet – “This is all on town property” – it connects to an existing woods road in the direction of the old spring house location. Traveling along the edge of the multi-purpose field, the path would connect to Washburn Road. At that point a “greenway,” cyclists would ride with the traffic on either side of the road.

            The surface in that stretch is not ideal. Rockwell told the commission that the town would often drag the stones atop the gravel base. Lacking the equipment to flatten the road, people fill potholes in the road with stones or asphalt shaving that get cast out, said Rockwell.

            “It’s wider than it has to be. You only need one lane for the traffic speed,” said Rockwell, who said based on one lane for traffic that 10 feet in width would be sufficient.

            MOSAC would like to see a bike lane on both sides of the road, preserving the green strip dividing the traffic directions, but Rockwell said that the 250-foot stretch of road would need to be rebuilt.

            The funding model for the bike path has changed over the years. Rockwell said in the old days, towns would pay 10-percent of the costs, but once grant funding was being secured the towns needed a Town Meeting vote.

            As a state highway project, the commonwealth funds the construction but needs to sign off on design funded by the individual towns.

            “We’re sort of tangentially connected to this as we’re the landowners of the biggest stretches, so we own the railroad bed that goes from the back of Mattapoisett to the Brew Fish, and then we own the trolley line that goes from 105 past Parkway Lane. And then we – [MOSAC] on behalf of the town – we own the old railroad line from Washburn Road at the entrance to the park up to 195, and then we own the property that borders 195 out to Point Road, so we’re the major landowner of this and, really, it’s been an effort to target properties over the last 20 years to make this possible.”

            As far as ongoing work is concerned, Rockwell said he is more involved in the project as the chair of the Pathway Committee.

            Alan Harris, president of the Sippican Lands Trust and former MOSAC vice-chairman, attended the MOSAC meeting and participated in discussion about signage at Goldavitz Bog area property.

            “That is one thing I was going to recommend, is maybe trying to get some signage out,” said Ewing. “They’re not all easily accessed, but there are places you can access, and just to have something that indicates it’s Marion Open Space property, especially like where a lot of them abut the Sippican Lands Trust property.”

            Rockwell noted that MOSAC member Casey Gunschel has made signs for Great Swamp Trail and that he has some wood that can be used for posts and other raw material, plus boundary markers that can attach to a post or a tree.

            “We’re so lucky to have all this open space,” said Ewing, who believes better signage can increase awareness. “It’s just such a wonderful thing for Marion to have all this property.”

            Rockwell suggested the online placement of pins onto Google maps for visitors to download.

            Harris said that a lot of the open spaces and land around Aucoot Cove are not easy to access.

            Ewing said that while some areas are not meant to be accessed, the areas adjacent to recreation areas need improved access. Ewing suggested she coordinate with Harris on improving access and signage.

            Wayne Sweet was publicly thanked for volunteering to remove garbage that had been deposited at Grassi Bog. Rockwell said he had filled out a work order with the Department of Public Works before receiving the news of Sweet’s gift.

            The next meeting of the Marion Open Space Acquisition Commission was not scheduled at adjournment.

Marion Open Space Acquisition Commission

By Mick Colageo

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