Published in the February 22, 2019 edition.


LYNNFIELD — It’s finally happening.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) will be holding a public hearing on the proposed 25 percent design of the Wakefield-Lynnfield Rail Trail on Tuesday, March 19, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Lynnfield Middle School auditorium.

“The meeting will not be run by the towns of Lynnfield and Wakefield,” said Lynnfield Town Administrator Rob Dolan. “It’s a public hearing run by MassDOT. Residents from both communities will be able to comment on the project.”

“Wakefield is extremely excited about the rail trail project,” said Wakefield Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio. “Town Meeting voted unanimously for the project. This is a big part of our vision to have a community that is walkable, bikeable and healthy. These recreational opportunities will be tied to the downtown business district. I am looking forward to the project’s next steps and bringing this project to completion.”

The proposed Wakefield-Lynnfield Rail Trail would begin on Main Street in Wakefield near the Galvin Middle School and would go to the Peabody line. A portion of the rail trail would go through Reedy Meadow.

Gerard Noumi, chairman of the Lynnfield Recreational Path Committee, said, “The Recreational Path Committee has been working diligently to inform the community about the Wakefield-Lynnfield Rail Trail project. We encourage residents to plan to attend the March 19 hearing on the 25 percent design and, prior to the hearing, to take a look at the information we have posted on the Recreational Path Committee page on the town’s website.”

Recreational Path Committee member Joel Steiner concurred with Noumi’s viewpoint.

“The purpose of the hearing is to share the results of the 25 percent design effort and to solicit input from residents in terms of their screening preferences,” Steiner stated. “The hearing will also be an opportunity for residents to discuss parking alternatives and other matters that will be used as input to the following design phase referred to as the 75 percent or final design stage. The meeting will be noticed locally and all residents are invited to attend this hearing to provide input to the next stage of design.”

Lynnfield Board of Selectmen Chairman Dick Dalton said he is looking forward to the public hearing.

“I am looking forward to hearing what MassDOT has to say about the project, where they are at in the process and if there are any updates,” said Dalton.

In addition to the MassDOT public hearing, Noumi said the RPC will be giving an update on the project during the Board of Selectmen’s March 18 meeting.

“The presentation to the board will be a summary of our findings and will cover recent presentations to other boards,” said Noumi.

Dolan said local officials from both towns will be present at the MassDOT hearing as well as WorldTech Engineering.

“There has been no terminus that has been recommended as of today, but it would end somewhere near the Peabody line, likely in the Jordan Park and Pillings Pond area,” Noumi recently said.

While the 2018 Wakefield Town Meeting unanimously voted to enter into the lease with the MBTA, the April 2017 Lynnfield Town Meeting approved a citizens’ petition authorizing the selectmen to enter into a 99-year lease with the MBTA by a 342-341 vote.

“The MBTA will provide Lynnfield and Wakefield a 99-year lease for $1 to utilize the linear corridor for a publicly owned recreational path,” said Noumi recently. “There would be no additional votes to enter into the lease as it was voted on during the April 2017 Town Meeting.”

In the wake of the close Town Meeting vote, Dolan said local officials are in the process of preparing language for a non-binding referendum ballot question. If the Board of Selectmen approve the language for the ballot question at its next meeting, it will appear on the April 9 Town Election ballot.

“It’s a non-binding referendum asking voters whether or not they want to proceed with the Wakefield-Lynnfield Rail Trail,” said Dolan.

After a workshop was held last March, Noumi recently said WorldTech was able to incorporate residents’ feedback into the rail trail’s 25 percent design.

“This feedback was very beneficial to the engineers,” said Noumi. “There were over 100 attendees from Lynnfield and Wakefield.”

If Lynnfield voters authorize the town to move forward with the project, there will be additional public hearings once the rail trail enters the final design phase.

Noumi noted if Lynnfield residents have any questions about the MassDOT public hearing, they can attend the RPC’s meeting on Wednesday, March 6.