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  1. #1
    Senior Member cod.peace's Avatar
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    Bike trail controversy in MA

    Suburban peace vs. pedal power
    Sudbury group sounds alarm over proposed bike trail
    By Sarah Schweitzer, Globe Staff | July 5, 2008
    SUDBURY - Looking out at a lushly wooded area beyond a stone wall on her 100-acre estate, Carole Wolfe's face darkened. There, in the distance, she said, nervously pointing a finger, stretches a former rail corridor that, if some have their way, could bring trouble upon this town where her family's roots date to Colonial times.

    "Instead of solitude," Wolfe said, "you'd be having people."

    Wolfe is among a band of vocal Sudbury residents raising the alarm against a proposed bike trail along a pathway where trains once chugged.

    Opponents of the "rail trail" say the path would draw hundreds of thousands of bicyclists who would bring with them noise and other disruptions into what is now a pristine landscape. Hordes of bikers, walkers, and rollerbladers would scare away wildlife, they say, and invite crime from trespassing to vandalism and assault.

    "We don't have neighbors nearby," said Marianne Maurer, whose family's tree farm is bisected by the proposed bike trail. "If something happened, no one would hear us yelling."
    ....
    Foes say they are prepared to do whatever it takes to keep the measure from coming to a vote. Should it make it to a Town Meeting ballot, they vow to defeat it.

    As far as Maurer is concerned, a better solution is for bikers to get their exercise indoors.

    "My whole theory is: Go to the gym that you got the membership for and that you know you are not using," she said.


    More at link: http://www.boston.com/news/local/art...s_pedal_power/

    This is to be built along an unused railway line. I wonder how long this trend will continue - with increased gas prices, at some point somebody will realize that light rail is a useful and fuel-efficient way to move people around the region.
    Last edited by cod.peace; 07-05-08 at 07:55 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    Well, I have a bit of a problem with forcibly converting these abandoned rail lines to bike trails. Often the land was taken in order to build the railways. When the railways fall out of use, the land should revert to private ownership. Now I realize that the people that the land was taken from are long gone, but a government should not be able to take land for one purpose, then later (months, years, decades, it doesn't matter), convert it for another use.

    "This is to be built along an unused railway line. I wonder how long this trend will continue - with increased gas prices, at some point somebody will realize that light rail is a useful and fuel-efficient way to move people around the region. "

    ^^^This is the only reason not to cede unused railways to private ownership. In the future rail will likely be needed for public transportation.
    Not too much to say here

  3. #3
    Senior Member envane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddyfish View Post
    Well, I have a bit of a problem with forcibly converting these abandoned rail lines to bike trails.
    Railroads are private entitities. The R.O.W. is currently owned by CSX, and the governemnt is purchasing it from them (and CSX happy to sell it to them):

    Framingham, at the southern tip of the proposed trail, has just begun appraising, at selectmen's request, the cost of purchasing the right of way owned by CSX Corp. where the trail would run, said Julian Suso, the town manager.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Denny Koll's Avatar
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    I have heard of this happening before.

    In fact I would guess almost every new trail has some controversy from neighbors. Our local trail was disputed by neighbors and a local lanscaping business along the trail.

    They help up the trail for two years but it finally was completed. A lot of these folks love the trail now that they realize none of the scary things really materialized.

  5. #5
    Senior Member envane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Denny Koll View Post
    They help up the trail for two years but it finally was completed. A lot of these folks love the trail now that they realize none of the scary things really materialized.
    An MUP tends to take on the character of the neighbourhood its in. If your MUP is a crime-ridden dump, that's because you already live in one.

  6. #6
    Joyously Phred MnHillBilly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by envane View Post
    An MUP tends to take on the character of the neighbourhood its in. If your MUP is a crime-ridden dump, that's because you already live in one.
    +1 - The only MUPs in my neck of the woods with problems are the ones that connect with shady neighborhoods to begin with, and even then, it's not as bad as people would think. You just do what everyone should be doing no matter where they are - be vigilant. Don't ride/walk/blade alone at night.

    I've never understood the "noise" complaint thing. People who are there on bikes/blades/walking for the right reasons aren't the ones stopping and throwing impromptu trail parties with beer and loud music. Even without a bike trail - there's nothing in place to stop people from showing up along the railroad property and wreaking havoc for these people interviewed in the article. There are other reasons to be upset about a trail going up - but an increase in crime and/or noise pollution isn't really one of them.

  7. #7
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    Wow, I'm surprised by this. In lynn woods, MTB-ing scared away all the sketchy business that was going on in there. There's a 2-mile long bike path in Mansfield that used to be a rail way ages ago. There's no crime or noise pollution, just people out there with their children and pets getting exercise.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by envane View Post
    Railroads are private entitities. The R.O.W. is currently owned by CSX, and the governemnt is purchasing it from them (and CSX happy to sell it to them):

    i]
    That is who has it now. But was it paid for when it was acquired from the original land owners? Or was it eminent domained? It it was taken through eniment domain for rail use, then it should be returned to the original use, not converted to another use other than that for which it was taken.
    Not too much to say here

  9. #9
    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    I guess what I am saying is,if the original owners were not offered a choice to sell the land for the railroad to be built, now that the railway is abandoned, the land should be offered first to the local landowners.

    Just imagine you were the original land owner, maybe a farmer, and they came and told you, that you HAVE to sell to build a railroad, because it is a national priority. Then years later, the railroad dies, and the railway is converted to something completely different than the one that was a national priority when they took it.
    Not too much to say here

  10. #10
    Conservative Hippie
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddyfish View Post
    That is who has it now. But was it paid for when it was acquired from the original land owners? Or was it eminent domained? It it was taken through eniment domain for rail use, then it should be returned to the original use, not converted to another use other than that for which it was taken.
    I can only agree with this if the owning entity of the property offers to sell it back to the farmer and the farmer agrees to buy. Otherwise the property belongs to, in this case, the railroad company. They can sell to whoever wants it.

    Sounds like the woman quoted in the article has a bad case of NIMBYism. "I got mine, screw everybody else." I hope the trail goes through just to spite her.

  11. #11
    Senior Member envane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddyfish View Post
    That is who has it now. But was it paid for when it was acquired from the original land owners? Or was it eminent domained? It it was taken through eniment domain for rail use, then it should be returned to the original use, not converted to another use other than that for which it was taken.
    Some of it was purchased by the rail company, some had to be aquired via eminent domain then given/sold to the RR. Either way, its now legally the RR's property and they can do what they want with it.

    If you think this is some great abuse of ED, try having your house condemned to build a ****ing Wal-Mart.

    Personally, I'd rather keep track ROW intact, because you never know when you'll need it again, and its a lot more expensive to create a new ROW (which is why we'll never get any new CTA lines built in Chicago).

  12. #12
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by envane View Post
    An MUP tends to take on the character of the neighbourhood its in. If your MUP is a crime-ridden dump, that's because you already live in one.
    Precisely.

    Quote Originally Posted by ObjectAgnosia View Post
    Wow, I'm surprised by this. In lynn woods, MTB-ing scared away all the sketchy business that was going on in there. There's a 2-mile long bike path in Mansfield that used to be a rail way ages ago. There's no crime or noise pollution, just people out there with their children and pets getting exercise.
    Perhaps it is time for these trail advocates to get people from other places to speak out about how this sort of thing is far more likely to be good for their communities rather than bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by maddyfish View Post
    I guess what I am saying is,if the original owners were not offered a choice to sell the land for the railroad to be built, now that the railway is abandoned, the land should be offered first to the local landowners.

    Just imagine you were the original land owner, maybe a farmer, and they came and told you, that you HAVE to sell to build a railroad, because it is a national priority. Then years later, the railroad dies, and the railway is converted to something completely different than the one that was a national priority when they took it.
    I'm sure that if the original land owners were still alive, it could be a very emotional issue for them. You've got a point about the issue of eminent domain, but for some reason, communities don't wish to oppose rail-trails on the basis of the one or two rational reasons that exist (eminent domain & our future need of rail transportation in light of the decline of the petroleum culture) - they instead choose the paranoid, Chicken-Little, NIMBY approach which makes them look like complete fools. These people are in opposition to this particular trail because they seem to believe it will attract the Wrong Element to their Paradisical Communities. As a result, they don't get very far. The future users of such trails tend to get their hackles up when they are compared to criminals in newspaper articles and then become passionately supportive of something they previously considered a "nice idea". Once you've got opposing sides with dynamics like that ready to fight it out, chances are the winner will be the group that isn't spewing fear-laced, predudicial pronouncements all over media outlets.

    For heaven's sake, if you're going to oppose something and there are multiple reasons for doing so, please choose the ones which are not rooted in human paranoia.
    "Real wars of words are harder to win. They require thought, insight, precision, articulation, knowledge, and experience. They require the humility to admit when you are wrong. They recognize that the dialectic is not about making us look at you, but about us all looking together for the truth."

  13. #13
    Senior Member envane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterRun View Post

    Sounds like the woman quoted in the article has a bad case of NIMBYism. "I got mine, screw everybody else." I hope the trail goes through just to spite her.
    I googled her address. This ****bag lives across the street from.... get this....

    A SCHOOL ATHLETIC FIELD

    Peace and quiet.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=e...13433&t=h&z=16

  14. #14
    No I'm Not a Pirate! Bionicycle's Avatar
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    About fifteen years ago we had a Rails-to-Trails MUP (The Cardinal Greenway) built in our area… All of the concerns and complaints of the woman in Boston MA., and then some where brought up.. None of the fears people had of the trail have came to pass. The trail is considered, one of the attractions of the County, and City I live in. There are plans to extend it to the North West, and eventually to the South East to meet up with the larger section of the Cardinal Greenway that runs from Gaston thru Muncie to Richmond IN. About 30+ continuous miles…

    Unfortunately some local land owner were able to buy up several sections of abandoned rail bed, before Cardinal Greenway Inc. could, so there is a aprox. 10 mile gap in the trail at this time. This will have to be addressed in the future however, because this section of trail has been included in the http://www.discoverytrail.org/ trail project…
    A bird can roost but on one branch, a mouse can drink not more than its fill from a river.

  15. #15
    Senior Member alhedges's Avatar
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    We had similar complaints when our rail-trail was extended to the suburban county north of my city, and there were court battles for a while - but ironically, the suburb dwellers are now some of the most fanatical trail users, as it provides an antidote to the otherwise pedestrian and bike unfriendly suburbs.

    WRT property, envane is correct - barring a specific covenant in the deed, once the land was sold to the rail companies, they own it free and clear in its entirety.

  16. #16
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    we are not getting a connector trail from my neighborhood to the Anacostia Tributary Trail system because of opposition from residents. the cyclists and other users of the path will dump their trash everywhere and make noise and what else have you. oh, and of course it will bring down property values and lead to an increase in crime because the riff raff will now have easier access to our fair neighborhood, even though bike paths have been a proven bolster of property values in other neighborhoods in this county and this state.

    funnily enough, they also complain about cyclists getting in their way and holding up their cars as they pedal uphill on the only street that goes out of this neighborhood. ugh.
    Last edited by o-dog; 07-05-08 at 02:12 PM.

  17. #17
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    I agree with the residents. Every converted railway track in the US and the UK is filled with villains departing your homes with 42" plasma screens/computers/ride-on lawnmowers/takeyourpick on the back of their mtbs/bmxs.

    Not to mention the deafening sound of badly adjusted derailleurs and squeaky hubs rattling away at 120dbs and the bulging bags of garbage that riders cycle miles with, on their backs, to dump away from their homes. And then there are the high-pitched cries of children enjoying themselves with their families disturbing the peace. And, of course, only poor people ride bikes which will destroy property values, since many of them don't wash behind their ears and have poor teeth (sorry, that's just the UK).

    In some ways, our countries are very much alike as the objections are pretty much identical/nonsensical. Or, as we say in our quaint way, total bollocks

  18. #18
    No I'm Not a Pirate! Bionicycle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by o-dog View Post
    we are not getting a connector trail from my neighborhood to the Anacostia Tributary Trail system because of opposition from residents. the cyclists and other users of the path will dump their trash everywhere and make noise and what else have you. oh, and of course it will bring down property values and lead to an increase in crime because the riff raff will now have easier access to our fair neighborhood, even though bike paths have been a proven bolster of property values in other neighborhoods in this county and this state.

    funnily enough, they also complain about cyclists getting in their way and holding up their cars as they pedal uphill on the only street that goes out of this neighborhood. ugh.
    Yep, the whole Trash, Crime, Noise, Property values,… it was all brought up as reasons to not put in the trail in our city also… but, common logic saved the day.

    There has been some trash dumping, crime, and graffiti on the trail, but not any more than any rural county road has around here… possibly less. And, we have a small army of volunteers, that go along the trail to clean up and repaint, and maintain as necessary.

    As far as “Noise” and “Property Values”… I guess these people thought a train was quieter going past their backyard than a bicyclist, or hiker would be; or that an abandoned rail corridor would attract less crime, and trash than a functional well traveled trail.

    I don’t know the numbers, but I cannot imagine that a trail behind your house would be less desirable than a railroad track, or abandoned rail bed, when it came time to sell your house.
    A bird can roost but on one branch, a mouse can drink not more than its fill from a river.

  19. #19
    Better rider 20 yrs ago fprintf's Avatar
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    Same complaints here. Actually, the homeowners who originally bought their houses have made out extra nicely. Originally when they bought the property, it was considered a negative because there was a rail line or right of way near their homes. So the home prices, and taxes for all these years, were somewhat lower. They have therefore benefited for some time for the railroad ROW, even though the rail line has been inactive for over 25 years.

    Now that the trail has been built, the home prices have appreciated $25,000 or more than similar homes one or two streets away. So these homeowners have benefited yet again, and since we do not reappraise houses that often (every 10 years), they are benefiting from lower taxes and from the proximity to the trail. Personally I would love to own one of them!

    Of course things will catch up as the original homeowners retire and move out, but nothing that was negative has come to pass. In fact, some people have made really nice entrances with flowers, benches and brick pathways from their yards onto the trail. A few have even been so nice as to position the benches close to the trail *and* put up signs inviting people to take a seat. I don't often ride on the trail, finding it too crowded and slow for my 17mph pace, but when I do I think how nice it would be to own a home there. My kids would love it.

  20. #20
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    Bike trails are lovely,they prevent idiot drivers from hitting you when they dont pay any attention to bikes,we are going to see gas at 6.00 plus per gallon by the end of the year.I cant wait to see oil at 200.oo per barrel.

    Obama and mccain aint going to do anything about the gas prices no matter what happens.

  21. #21
    Senior Member
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    So is there anything we can do to make sure the bike trail succeeds beyond posting our comments here?

  22. #22
    Behind Bars
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    I'm sure MassBike has some info on it...never did renew that membership...
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  23. #23
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lurker1999 View Post
    So is there anything we can do to make sure the bike trail succeeds beyond posting our comments here?
    You could try contacting people in other communities who ended up really liking their rail-trail and who can dispel these myths of Invasion of the Wrong Sort. See if they'll write letters to the Boston Globe in response to this news article.

    Here's a great article about the efficacy of letter writing.
    "Real wars of words are harder to win. They require thought, insight, precision, articulation, knowledge, and experience. They require the humility to admit when you are wrong. They recognize that the dialectic is not about making us look at you, but about us all looking together for the truth."

  24. #24
    Senior Member alhedges's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fprintf View Post
    .

    Now that the trail has been built, the home prices have appreciated $25,000 or more than similar homes one or two streets away. So these homeowners have benefited yet again, and since we do not reappraise houses that often (every 10 years), they are benefiting from lower taxes and from the proximity to the trail. Personally I would love to own one of them!
    A university did an extensive study on trails in my city and found that houses located within 1/2 mile of the trail were worth $10,000 more than would otherwise be the case.

  25. #25
    Look! My Spine! RubenX's Avatar
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    If the place is really that remote, the person there is over-reacting big time...hundreds of thousands? hordes? come on! Maybe a lone rider minding his own bussiness every 15 minutes or so.

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