NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

July 16, 2013

Board mulls alternative parking plan for rail trail

BY JENNIFER SOLIS
CORRESPONDENT

---- — NEWBURY — Selectmen are considering an alternative parking proposal at the Newbury entrance to the Clipper City Rail Trail on Parker Street.

The new plan proposes a pull-off area at the trailhead where people can unload kids, bikes or hiking paraphernalia. Diagonal markings delineate the drop-off spot to keep people from parking there, but the plan leaves enough space for one parked car each at its head and foot.

The Planning Board feels this scenario “provides a couple of parking spaces off the side of the road, away from abutters, with no disturbances to wetlands, as well as a way to keep people, especially children, off Parker Street itself when they access the trail,” wrote town Planner Martha Taylor in a memo to selectmen.

Selectman David Mountain said the proposal seemed like “a reasonable compromise.” But his colleague Geoff Walker proposed meeting Geordie Vining, who is spearing heading the parking design effort, at the parking site before making a determination about the plan.

Taylor also updated selectmen on the status of the Border to Boston Trail. The Department of Transportation has finished making its comments on a 25 percent design plan, and the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission has approved construction funding for the Georgetown-Byfield section of the trail. Taylor anticipates a public hearing on the project will be held in the fall.

According to the MVPC website, the northern section of the B2B Trail aims to utilize “a combination of former railroad corridor, utility right of way and local roadways” in order to “connect trail segments that have been constructed in recent years — the Clipper City Rail Trail in Newburyport and the Old Eastern Marsh Trail in Salisbury.”

Part of the larger B2B Trail project, the 19-mile section will link Danvers, Wenham, Topsfield, Boxford, Georgetown, Newbury, Newburyport and Salisbury along a 30-mile corridor, connecting areas of cultural, economic, social and natural significance. The goal is to provide “non-motorized transportation and recreational alternative for people of all ages and abilities,” the website states.

Construction funding for the segment of the B2B trail from Georgetown Square north to Byfield Center will be available on Oct. 1, 2016, but the actual start date for construction has not yet been set, according to Taylor.