The following letter to the editor was submitted by Andover Selectman Chris Huntress (photo, middle). The views expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Andover News. You can learn more about our policy on opinion and commentary on our Mission and Policies page.
The Town of Andover has proposed to pave an 8′ wide pedestrian walkway through the 1.2-mile trail on town-owned land at Haggett’s Pond. Full disclosure: I am a member of the Andover Select Board, but I share my thoughts as a resident. I understand the concerns about pavement versus stone dust for the trail surface.
The Haggett’s Pond Rail Trail project will require compliance with the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Haggett’s Pond is the best location for an ADA-accessible trail because it already has a flat, compact rail bed. Areas such as Fish Brook Reservation and Pomp’s Pond would require hillside excavation and more extensive tree removal.
There are good and thoughtful comments on both sides of this discussion. There will be environmental impacts. On the other hand, paving provides a stable surface and reduces the risk of shifting and movement, a major concern for residents with mobility issues. The current design has minimized the amount of tree clearing, and we can work to further reduce the impact of the trail and proposed parking areas. As a community, we must weigh the pros and cons of what is best for all residents, not just those who are able-bodied. Providing universal access to Haggett’s Pond is the right thing to do.
I support the position of the Andover Commission on Disability, the Building Inspector, and the ADA Coordinators. Paving the 1.2-mile trail at Haggett’s Pond will provide universal access for all users.
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