Despite a vow from the Wellesley Trails Association to scrap the contested section of the Bast Bush Trail that’s been under public scrutiny over the past few weeks, the trail’s location was once again on the table at this week’s township council meeting.
While some residents are keen to have the new trail in place, a group of homeowners objects to having the route immediately adjacent to their rear yards, citing safety and privacy concerns.
On Sept 7, some 20 residents of Schweitzer Crescent in Wellesley Village appeared at council to express their dissatisfaction with the proposed new trail, which was in the development stages by the Wellesley Trails Association (WTA). After a petition was presented and a public meeting held the following evening, the WTA announced they would rework the route of the new trail. The WTA is currently still planning to develop the Bast Bush trail, but have eliminated the portion of it which would run behind the Schweitzer Crescent homes.
At this week’s meeting, the delegation opened with Murray Bremner, the organizations’ president, presenting to council and the public a number of reasons why trails are beneficial to a community: the accessibility of a place for people to walk and get some exercise, a meeting place for the community, and their contribution to crime reduction.
“The residents described a number of things that could happen with the development of a trail, however the WTA does not agree with the notion that the trail would cause an increase in frequency of criminal behavior – bush parties, drug use and public drunkenness,” said Bremner.
He went on to explain that although he has looked at the proposal given to him by Schweitzer Crescent homeowners, which included suggestions for other locations for the trail, those options were not feasible as they could not get homeowner approval as has been given for the Bast Bush Trail by Murray Bast.
“We have waited for 12 years for the stars to align and for this to happen,” he explained.
A representative of the Schweitzer Crescent Homeowners Alliance stressed that it’s the location, not the concept of trails, that has some residents concerned.
Citing a letter in last week’s edition of the Observer, Schweitzer Crescent resident Kelly Rakowski said the issue has become a real bone of contention.
“This letter shows how personal the attacks are becoming,” said Rakowski. “Homeowners have stated many times that we agree with the idea of trails in Wellesley, but not at this location.”
The homeowners present at the meeting said that since Bremner has signed an online petition for the Schweitzer location for the trail, it seemed as though the idea for the trail’s development on Schweitzer Crescent was still on the table. Bremner later assured homeowners that it isn’t.
Council has collected all of the reports, petitions, and other information presented to them over the past few weeks, and will withhold comment until a formal report can be prepared by township staff.
“I hope we can lighten up on the debate over this trail,” said Bremner. “We are not planning a nuclear power plant or a landfill, or a grow-op. We are planning a public trail. We look forward to the results of the staff report and anticipate that we will continue with the many steps ahead to complete the plan for the trail.”