2017-02-02 / Sterling News

Sterling seeks grant to develop network of trails

By Joel Mongeon

Plans are now in the works for the Sterling Conservation Commission to install a new network of trails in the area around the town beach.

At the Jan. 24 select board meeting, members of the Conservation Commission presented their proposal to apply for a grant of about $12,000 that would allow a continuous trail to be implemented from Mudgett Orchard, a town-owned parcel on Swett Hill Road, to Sholan Park at Lake Waushakum.

According to Conservation Agent Matthew Morro, the plan is to install a main artery trail across the road from Mudgett Orchard. The trail will lead through the Hall Ave parcel and end at Sholan Park. There will also be two small spur trails nearer the lake. The path, Morro said, will avoid wetland resource areas and will require a minimal amount of trees to be cleared.

Part of the commission’s incentive for seeking this grant is to allow for handicapaccessible trails that can be accessed from Sholan Park.

“They’d have the stone dust material that the state regulations require to allow for people with mobility-impaired issues,” said Morro. “Not just wheelchairs but people who have difficulty raising their feet high.”

Due to this change in the nature of the trail, two handicap parking spaces will be made available at the Sholan Park parking area. Handicap access will be limited, however, because of the terrain.

“They’re not going to be able to get more than 150 feet in because then it starts getting too steep for us to comply with the regulations,” Morro added. “But we’re doing the spur trails to stay on the level part… where there won’t be any issues.”

He added that the grant will allow for park benches to be installed as well.

The project is designed not only to introduce a continuous trail system, but also to accent the town beach and allow better access for summer recreation programs. According to Barbara Roberti, chair of the Conservation Commission, the Sterling Recreation Department has voiced their support for the project.

“We’ve been in touch with the rec committee and they’re totally in favor of it,” said Roberti. “We think this might be a nice addition to the summer rec program. We expect to have quite a bit of signage and develop it as a nature trail for educational purposes.”

The trails will be available to the general public. However, as parking at Sholan Park is limited to Sterling residents with a permit sticker, visitors from out of town will use the Mudgett Orchard parking area.

While the Conservation Commission is not promoting the new set of trails as a dog park, Morro said they are certainly not banning pets from the area.

“I don’t see it being heavily used by a lot of people for a lot of dogs,” said Morro. “We will have doggie dispensers. We have two of them up on the Mudgett trail now.”

The selectmen voted unanimously in favor of the grant proposal. Morro said that the Open Space Implementation Committee has given a letter of endorsement as well. He also encouraged any owners of neighboring properties to reach out and get involved in the planning process.

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