Stoneham – Tri Community Greenway

For those of you who do not leave in Eastern Massachusetts, you now have my permission to skip this post.

Those of you who live in the greater Boston area – not so fast.

This amazing tunnel runs under I93 and connects the communities.

I live in Stoneham – a small town that happens to be 11 miles from the soaring skyline of Boston. My community was hit hard by both September 11th and the Marathon bombings, but it’s generally a quiet place. I really enjoy living here. I have phenomenal neighbors. The schools are (so far) excellent. I can walk to just about anything worth walking to, including a used book store and a theater. (In the sadly lacking department, I CANNOT walk to good coffee. Woe!) Just yesterday, we had the annual Stoneham Town Day where the entire town turned out wearing their Stoneham gear and bounced in bouncy houses, painted faces, raised awareness and hung out.

A hundred years ago, my community – like so many others – had a railway running through it for local deliveries. Again, following the pattern, with the rise of the car the railway fell into disuse. Now in the 21st century, we’d like to reclaim our right of way and build a bike path alone the publicly owned lands. This is FANTASTIC. It will connect our community to two neighboring communities, going under the freeway. (I wrote about the really neat freeway underpass here.)

The project – the Tri Community Greenway – has been in progress for longer than some voters have been alive. But it’s ALMOST THERE. Here’s what they’ve accomplished:

  • Almost all the route has been planned, with official plans accepted by Mass DOT.
  • The bikeway has obtained legal rights to the land with a 99 year lease from the MTA. All previous leasees’ leases have expired and the land is now legally free and clear for the public good of Stoneham.
  • With one exception (we’ll get to that in a moment), every business who had previously been using the public land has created and executed a plan to get the bikeway through the route. Special thanks to companies like Cleveland Fence who worked hard and negotiated in good faith to make it happen.
  • Most critically, the Bikeway has obtained federal funding for construction for 2014. Seriously, people, they can break ground before my kid hits third grade.

Of course, there’s one catch. One person has decided their driveway is more important than an entire community’s needs, and despite many good faith efforts by the Greenway committee, this person is refusing to move the 500 trucks worth of fill they put ON PUBLIC LAND and is now trespassing. They have been served with an eviction notice. I have to admit that it makes me really angry to think of one person ignoring both legal and moral obligations, who is willing to destroy a project that will serve the people of the community their business is in.

So… what can we do? First, there is a meeting of the Stoneham Board of Selectman on Tuesday, September 10th 2013. I intend to be there – with my children – to let the Selectmen of Stoneham know how important their leadership on this issue is to me, and to my community. This is not a project that needs you to open your wallet (see also: federal funding!). This is a project that needs you to use your voice to make sure that the community comes together to push it across the finish line.

You can find contact information for the Stoneham Board of Selectman here: http://www.stoneham-ma.gov/board-of-selectmen – let them know what you think! You can also find WAY MORE details about the greenway here, including the published plans, a map of the final route, the history of the project and community, and tons of pictures.


For your voting reference, I have also sent an email to every single one of the Selectmen, letting them know about my feelings on the topic. I’m including the replies below! I sent them all emails on 9/8/13 at 7:45 pm.

Ann Marie O’Neill – 8:50 pm 9/8/13

Dear Brenda,

Thank you for making your voice heard. The bike path is important not only because it will be a good asset for Stoneham, but also because bringing the citizens of Stoneham out to demand action from their leaders represents a major policy shift. We deserve better and we have been over looked for too long. Thank you for getting involved and thank you for encouraging your friends to speak out as well. If you are able to come to Tuesday’s meeting please introduce yourself. One of the most rewarding aspects of this role has been to meet my neighbors.

Thank you,
Ann Marie

Robert Sweeney – Chairman – 8:30 am 9/9/13

i support the bikepath always have feel free to call me

Thomas Boussy – Vice Chairman

Strong Greenway supporter.

John Depinto – no response yet
Sent second request on 9/28/2014 11:20 am

Frank Vallarelli – no response yet
Send second request on 9/28/2013 11:25 am

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4 thoughts on “Stoneham – Tri Community Greenway

  1. Oh, good luck to you, Stoneham, and your bike path. Just to your south, here in Malden the bike path that was built last year got paved and yippee, it’s awesome. A true testament to those who worked for 20 years (20 years!) to make their dream happen. Won’t it be nice when we can bike allover from one town to the next?

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  2. CAN WE STOP TALKING ABOUT THE DAMN GREENWAY AND GET THE DAMN THING BUILT? We’ve BEEN TALKING ABOUT THIS FOR 20-30 YEARS. AND NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE. We keep hearing its been approved and then nothing happens. At this rate it will be like the Medford Green Line. it will take another 20 years before we ever see construction. Keep in mind construction will take about a year or two to complete so lets get this Process done. SUE THE HECK out of the person and the company that keeps dumping fill and threaten them with arrest if they do it again….and / or evict them from the property. People want the bike path and want it approved and started to be built now in Winchster STONEHAM and Woburn. We should also work with Medford to see if the city would pave the bike path from Sandy Beach along the Mystic lakes to route 60 and eventually to connect with the medford paths. .this would make it paved the entire way from the Arlington Greenway and Medford paths. connecting in a loop with the Somerville Community path and Minuteman Rail Trail . The tri community should also look to extend bike lanes from Rec park through stoneham and malden to connect with the Bike to the Sea/Northern Strand trail in Malden/Revere. Lets stop talking and start doing and get this constructed in the next year!!!!

    The time is NOW not 20 years from now. I want to use the trail before I am 50… I a, 37 now.. so lets get this done.and partner with the other communities to make an inteconnected trail network.

    Lets also work with Kraft foods and try to see if they will allow the trail through their property with some mitigation. It would be great if we could have it go along the original river corridor. instead of up Washington street.

    We should also work with the MBTA and see if the original route along the abjerjona up to Muraco School in Winchester could be renegotiated.

    At any rate town meeting in Winchester and Woburn should vote on the project as well and accept it next year.

    -jeff-

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    1. Jeff,

      Good news! The leases have expired, and the abutters are being removed from the property. After trying every possible delaying tactic, the last set near Maple Street have lost their battle to keep the public land for their own use. The town just decisively voted down extending any of the leases while the construction plans are worked on. I believe the initial ground breaking is planned for the end of the year! So yes. The time is actually now. (Also, in case you hadn’t heard, Kraft is selling the property along the trail and has laid off its employees.)

      Brenda

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