It’s probably been a while since you’ve heard anything about the Upper Falls Greenway, the plan to build a mile long walking/jogging/bicycle trail along the old railroad line that parallel’s Needham St.
In recent months the planning has been ticking away right on schedule. The city’s engineering department has designed what looks to be a very attractive entrance at Oak & Chestnut Streets (aka Pettee Square). The Greenway Working Group has been hammering out details of benches, fences, signs, etc. Construction is scheduled for October.
Last night the project hit an important milestone – Conservation Commission (ConCom) approval. The Conservation Commission needs to approve all projects that are near bodies of water or wetlands. In the case of the Greenway, the project comes under ConCom jurisdiction at two spots along its route – where the path meets the Charles River, and at a midpoint where it runs past the South Meadow Brook, a small stream that crosses under Needham St. ConCom enforces the Mass Wetland Protection Act and it is a very complicated piece of regulation that can potentially impose all sorts of complications on a project. Until a project gets ConCom approval there’s always potential for unforeseen delays and complications.
Last night the only significant issue raised was the potential for increased erosion due to increased foot traffic on the steep embankment by the Charles River. City Engineer Frank Nicols agreed to documenting the current erosion on that footpath and coming back a year from now with before/after photos. If there’s evidence of a problem, they’ll make a determination then about how to handle it – e.g. fencing etc.
With this milestone out of the way, the next big step is the lease for the property with the MBTA. That’s most likely to happen in July. The city’s already engaged with the MBTA in preparation for the that, all is well and no complications are anticipated.
It’s all full steam ahead for construction of the Upper Falls Greenway in October.