NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

May 20, 2013

Volunteers sought to advise on bike and walk plan

By Michelle Pelletier Marshall
Correspondent

---- — ROWLEY - Under the direction of the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, the town of Rowley, along with the surrounding communities, is working on a Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan for the area. Volunteers are sought to join the advisory group to this plan.

Katrina O’Leary, the town planner in Rowley, is currently the Rowley representative in the group. And while O’Leary may be the Rowley representative who reports to the MVPC group, she is hoping to gather her feedback from a Rowley subgroup that will assist in developing bicycle and pedestrian needs and action plans specifically for Rowley. This would be an informal group that would meet on an “as needed” basis.

“I know there are many in Rowley who are very interested in making Rowley more bike and pedestrian-friendly so I am looking for one or two volunteers to join me in this advisory group and contribute to the plan,” she said.

She explained that it would be of great benefit to residents to connect Rowley to the nearby “rail trails” being created in nearby communities - such as the “Border to Boston” network of trails.

These trails can be created on existing roads and/or can be created on land donated to the town as part of our Open Space Residential Developments, she said. Additionally she mentioned the availability of Community Preservation funds, which can be used to both buy land for potential trails and fund trail construction with the approval of residents.

The advisory group is charged with assisting the MVPC in the development of a regional vision, goals, objectives, actions and evaluation measures.

“Each community has a different vision for bicycle and pedestrian transportation so we are looking to create a network in the region to prioritize the list of bicycle and pedestrian needs,” said Betsey Goodrich of the MVPC.

The first step is to meet with the 15 communities involved, compile the data collected and revise the maps. Then representatives from each town will discuss the data, the goals and objectives and how to prioritize projects and programs on a regional basis. A date to meet with the Rowley group was not yet set, but Goodrich said that she hopes to have the whole project completed by January 2014.

Said O’Leary, “the first step is the most important one -- encouraging people to become involved.” Those interested in providing input for the Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan for the town should contact O’Leary at planning@townofrowley.org or 978-948-5549.