Potential Sidewalk Project Opposed by Robinson Road Residents

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Dorothy Gaumer addresses selectmen as Chris Barrett listens. WESTFORDCAT PHOTO

The stone wall in front of Dorothy Gaumer’s historic house on Flagg and Robinson Roads is her connection to a period 280 years ago when the house was built.

Gaumer and several of her neighbors were at the selectmen’s meeting on May 14 to oppose the idea of installing a sidewalk on Robinson Road.

None-the-less, the board voted unanimously in favor of moving the project to the Capital Planning Committee, acquiescing to Barrett’s request for committee members to consider funding a design plan for two sidewalks — one along historic Robinson Road from Concord to Flagg Roads, and the other along Plain Road from Nutting Road to Depot Street.

“Both of those roads have some strong characteristics,” said Chris Barrett, chairman of the Pedestrian Safety Committee.

In a letter to selectmen dated May 7, Barrett noted, “the Robinson Road sidewalk project has significant support from the neighborhood, connects two schools to existing sidewalk infrastructure (the Crisafulli and Robinson Schools), and improves the safety of residents and Westford Academy students who use Robinson Road for recreation and athletic pursuits.”

“For Plain Road, this extension would allow us to link into two recreation resources, East Boston Camps, Grassy Pond, and then extend the sidewalk to Nab and even further to the town beaches and then the old Nab playing fields.” Nab is a nickname for the section of town known as Nabnasset.

Barrett said his committee has about $65K in a sidewalk gift account. He said the money combined with capital funds might cover the cost of a design plan for one of the projects.

Of the dozens of residents who attended the meeting, it’s not clear whether any were there to discuss a Plain Road project which would extend an existing sidewalk. But the Robinson Road residents made their feelings known.

Gaumer and several of her neighbors voiced opposition, expressing concern that the historic stone walls threading the Robinson Road from one front yard to the next would be disrupted.

“I am reminded that these walls were built without machinery and only using animals and manpower to haul the big, giant stones,” she said. “To disturb these walls that our forefathers constructed seems disrespectful.”

Thivan Kaufman, the mother of a young child, presented selectmen with a list signed by 90 Westford residents who are in favor of the sidewalks.

“When I’m walking on the road, there’s poison ivy in the middle of the road and drivers don’t know what to do with me and my baby,…,” she said. Kaufman said she raised $7K through donations to put toward the sidewalk project.

Town historian, Robert Oliphant of Robinson Road is opposed to having a sidewalk built along his street.

“I’ve never seen in the 42 years that we’ve lived on Robinson Road any elementary school children walking to either Crisafulli or Robinson from our end of the road,” he said. “So I don’t think it will be used by school children going to school.”

Eric Morzinski of Star Circle had a broader perspective on the sidewalks.

“Coming form Germany we lived in Munich for many, many years and in a rural town comparable with Westford and everywhere there were sidewalks,” he said. “I’m all for it…I find it’s really worth it. It causes a positive effect not only on the street but throughout the city, breathing life into it.”

UPDATE — This story was slightly revised on May 18 in the third paragraph to improve the sentence structure and to clarify the information.