-advocating for the Wakefield-Lynnfield  Rail Trail project.

Lynnfield Rail Trail

April 8, 2018 Letter to Editor-   Ten Key Facts

The Friends of the Lynnfield Rail Trail have worked diligently to inform residents about the facts and dispel misconceptions regarding the Wakefield– Lynnfield Rail Trail project.  We are committed to making sure Lynnfield’s residents understand the opportunity they have to greatly benefit their community in a number of important ways.

Towns across Massachusetts and the country desire these paths and continue to add them. Governor Baker is a Rail Trail supporter and has proposed a dedicated Mass Trails funding line item in the state budget. 

In Lynnfield, we are fortunate in that we have an engineered rail bed currently unused that can be converted to a recreational path, and will be paid for entirely with State MA DOT STIP (State Transportation Investment Program) funding and Federal funds and maintained at no cost to the town via a non-

profit group assisted with private donations and volunteer efforts (see Danvers and Topsfield).  This path would cross only two streets, abut only 60 of 4,200 homes, and connect the major public buildings in town, including  the High School and Middle School,  which will enable Lynnfield’s children to walk and bike to school for generations to come. Studies show major safety, health and educational performance benefits to this activity.

Currently, there are 105 Rail Trail/ Recreational paths /Greenways in Massachusetts.  All 11 of Massachusetts’ AAA Moody’s rated communities have rail trails. These are among the most fiscally sound and savvy towns in our State. Can these 105 towns all be wrong?  Those towns have very carefully vetted these facilities and concluded they were very good for their communities. We urge you to look at the studies, talk to the residents in these communities. Get out and experience a Rail Trail near us. No single solution satisfies everyone, but we believe this is one of the best value opportunities in the history of this town.

Below is our summary response to a recent Letter to the Editor by a No Group supporter

1) -Incorrect Facts from the “NO Group”
 $300,000 Final Design funding has to be funded by Lynnfield.

Friends of Lynnfield Rail Trail (FLRT) is in process of seeking a combination of state funding, grants, and business donations. We are looking to raise these funds to reduce or eliminate a request for town funding. This was 1 of the 2 key reasons why a prevailing YES vote was important at the April 2017 town meeting. Lynnfield received all the money to date from the State for the feasibility study and the Preliminary Design. We want to raise this Final Design funding outside the town budget. However, if funds are not successfully raised outside of the town budget, the estimated $300,000 needed would represent a onetime cost of just $71 per household.  This is a $15 million+ asset that is available for almost nothing to the town.  The MBTA is prepared to give a free lease for a rail bed that is valued at over $6 million, and the State will pay the construction costs now estimated to be $9 million. 

2) - Incorrect Facts from the “NO Group”
Construction overrides will have to be funded by Lynnfield.

MA DOT has indicated to our town officials that the amount requested on preconstruction documents will be funded by MA DOT STIP.  A cushion for 10 % construction overrides is added to the funding. If in a worst case scenario it goes over this contingency, the project will stop until the Fed/State does fund the dollars needed to complete the project.

3) - Incorrect Facts from the “NO Group”
Trail maintenance has to be paid for by town.

Lynnfield’s trail maintenance costs are anticipated to cost the town nothing.  The Friends of the Lynnfield Rail Trail, a 501 c (3) non-profit organization, proposes securing business donations via 1/10-mile marker signs for incidental cash needs and volunteer work to handle routine annual maintenance. This model is used successfully all over the U.S. including local towns like Danvers and Topsfield. If this model was not used, the cost estimate is $5,000/year based upon multiple studies of rail trail maintenance costs.

4) - Incorrect Facts from the “NO Group”
The Long Term Replacement Costs (LTRC) are prohibitively expensive.

If Lynnfield does not get State assistance as is common nor a Wakefield 50/50 maintenance/replacement agreement on the boardwalk section of the Rail Trail, then Lynnfield will be responsible for funding LTRC of the approximately 0.50 of the 0.60 total boardwalk length and the 1.9 miles of asphalt. Using a high-end estimate of $1.1million divided across 4,200 households over a 25-year material life expectancy is only $11 per household (HH) per year. This is less than $1/month to fund the future Replacement of the Rail Trail for Lynnfield’s section.  We believe that Wakefield will agree to a 50/50 agreement for the boardwalk, which would reduce estimated LTRC to just $6/HH per year or 50 cents per month per HH.

 5) - Incorrect Facts from the “NO Group”
If Lynnfield signs the lease we are committed to build trail.

We are not committed. The lease cost is $0.  If we do not raise design money or MA DOT funding is delayed, we simply wait until funds are available.

6) - Incorrect Facts from the “NO Group”
Last year’s Town Meeting Warrant asked for funding for the Rail Trail project.

The warrant authorized – but did not require – the Selectman to sign a no-cost lease for the rail bed with the MBTA for the purpose of establishing, constructing and maintaining a Rail Trail.  No funding was requested.  The Town voted YES, in favor of authorizing the Selectman to sign a lease for the purpose of establishing, constructing and maintaining a Rail Trail.
This vote was important to show Lynnfield is earnest in wanting a Rail Trail, which evidences the town’s “readiness” for MA DOT STIP funding and  improves the ability to raise final design funding from the state, grants, businesses, etc.

To the extent final design funds are needed from the Town, a two-thirds majority at Town Meeting will be required to pass such an appropriation. 

7) - A “NO Group” comment
If Lynnfield citizens seek recreation, they should use Peabody’s Rail Trail.

FLRT comment
Lynnfield’s citizens should not have to get in their cars to drive to access recreation.  We have an amazing rail bed through the center of town that would be available and accessible to our residents of all ages and abilities.  This can help bring our town together and foster a sense of community, while offering safe, off-road recreation to our residents.  And as evidenced in the facts noted above, the cost to Lynnfield is virtually nothing for this $15 million+ asset. 

8 ) - Exaggerations from the “NO Group”

There is not enough off-road parking lots.

There are a total of 5 parking areas available which, due to their current use, have varying parking flow, depending on the time and day of the week. For example, schools lots will be available during non-school hours only, Jordan Park or Reedy Golf Course and Town Hall parking is available during the school hours.

Further, the central location of the Rail Trail will allow most citizens access to the trail even without having to rely on cars to get them there. And any additional parking that may be provided as part of the trail project (to be determined in the final design phase) will also help offset overflow parking at the existing lots, e.g. during church service or school events.

9) -Incorrect Facts from the “NO Group”
Jorden Park playground will be eliminated.

If the Jordan Park parking lot is expanded, the playground will remain.  The initiative to expanding the Jordan Park parking lot is unrelated to and independent from the Rail Trail. 

10) - Misleading news from the “NO Group”
The Town of Weston voted no on a Rail Trail.
The Town of Weston voted no approximately 20 years ago! A recent vote approved the project.

Weston’s Rail Trail is currently in the construction phase and is expected to be completed this summer 2018.

Towns with strong Education and Rail Trails/ Recreational Paths/ Greenways make up the backbone of the most desired and fiscally wise towns. This is increasingly a must in Massachusetts to maintain desirability. This Rail Trail project exemplifies civic responsibility and civic betterment. It is in the very best interests of the community.


Thank you,

Friends of the Lynnfield Rail Trail