Jeff Stone’s cool idea: The Milton Brook Walk

by Frank Schroth

Jeff Stone recently sent us his outline for a Milton Brook Walk. It is a concept he had some years ago. The recent Master Plan forum gave him a reason to dust it off and determine if there might be community interest in the idea. Whether the plan is feasible, practical or desired is to be determined; but it is a great idea for a number of reasons. It serves as a good example of the type of creative thinking the Master Plan initiative can generate and how we as a town may want to think about the future. It is a good example of something that if not planned will not happen. It is local and ours and has the potential to capture and preserve in a formal way the town’s natural beauty and semirural character.  Here is the plan.

– The Milton Brook Walk – 

A Concept Paper – January 27, 2013
Submitted by Jeff Stone, 15 Lufbery St., 617-696-5517, jeffonline@comcast.net

OVERVIEW
This is an idea for capitalizing on four major existing bodies of water in Milton: Pine Tree Brook, Pope’s Pond, Turner’s Pond and the Neponset River. We could combine them in such a way as to create a valuable new asset for the town, a pathway all the way from Ulin Rink to the Neponset at Central Ave. I first wrote this concept in 2004 and have updated it a bit, inspired by the current Milton Master Plan Process.

The linking theme is water and the linking body is Pine Tree Brook. These Milton bodies of water – the brook, the two ponds and then the river – link the whole walk. The length of the walk might provide 45-60 continuous minutes of great walking. It could also be designed as a shared walking and bicycling path. There would be occasional benches along the way for breaks. With a new mini-commercial district or two near the route (another Master Plan theme), there could be places along the route for walkers to stop and savor a coffee or cold drink.

This idea was inspired by my enjoyment of nearby Pope’s Pond and Pine Tree Brook and from a walking trip I once took in the Town of Wellesley. There is an impressive network of paths in Wellesley (http://www.wellesleyma.gov/Pages/WellesleyMA_Trails/index) that follow along streams, wooded areas and sidewalks that make for long and scenic walks through that town. Their trail network is clearly an asset to the Town of Wellesley.

BENEFITS TO MILTON

The Milton Brook Walk would provide multiple benefits:
1. Promote appreciation and use of natural resources in the town
2. Provide a resource for healthy recreation for people of all ages
3. Knit together different parts of town, fostering civic health
4. Create a sense of town pride in this exciting new recreational feature.
5. Increase property values because of the town’s having this desirable amenity.
6. Provide a nearby educational and recreational resource for several schools it would pass: Milton High School, Pierce Middle School, Glover Elementary School and Milton Academy.

DESCRIPTION OF ROUTE

The Milton Brook Walk could begin at the Ulin Skating Rink on the edge of the Blue Hills. It would link Pope’s Pond and Turner’s Pond via Pine Tree Brook and would wind up at the Neponset River at Central Ave., linking up with the Neponset River Greenway trail.

People driving could park at the Ulin Rink lot. There would be a big signboard there, describing the Brook Walk and including a map. People would walk along the existing paved walkway to Canton Ave. and cross at Pine Tree Brook. Then follow the edge of Pope’s Pond, across the footbridge out to Blue Hills Parkway. Cross the Parkway and walk along Pine Tree Brook all the way to Brook Road at Pierce Middle School.

Here’s where folks will have to walk on the sidewalk for a bit as there is probably not enough space in people’s backyards along Brook Rd. to accommodate walkers. So they walk on Brook Rd., turn left on Central Ave., cross Central Ave. and reconnect with the brook towards Turner’s Pond.

After going around Turner’s Pond, a path could be cleared alongside the brook in the brushy stretch that leads from Glover School to the corner of Herrick Dive and School Street. Crossing School Street, one can easily walk along the brook all the way to Brookside Park off of Brookhill Rd. From there, it’s a short walk to the Neponset River.

We would need to improve the paths around Pope’s Pond and along Pine Tree Brook in various places, install signage and maybe lighting. We could seek an outside grant to do this. We might think about adding the Town Forest area on the front end of the Pond Walk at Harland St. The little dam there and nearby small pond across the street from it are part of the Pine Tree Brook system.

SIGNAGE
We could have a school competition to design signs. Since Milton’s town colors seem to be red and white and water is blue, the signs might be red, white and blue, which also has a patriotic connotation. Maybe include green color on the signs in representation of trees and other plantings. Design elements might include:
· Representation of the four major Milton bodies of water
· Recreation
· Natural environment

LANDSCAPING
Trees, shrubs, bulbs, etc. could be planted along the Walk for seasonal color.

ALONG THE ROUTE
Breaks along the way:
· Benches located strategically to give a break with a view
· Stores or restaurants/cafes could be located in new, small mini-commercial districts located near the Pond Walk.

ALTERNATIVE NAMES
Pine Tree Brook Walk, Milton Pond Walk, etc.

ALLIES
Potential allies in developing and advocating for this proposal would include, among others:
· NepRWA and NepRWA members residing in Milton.
· Milton realtors recognizing the attraction to homebuyers
· Bike and environmental advocates in Milton
· Elected officials at local, state and federal levels
· Neponset River Greenway Trail people – BNAN, DCR, etc.
· Milton Yacht Club
· Milton Parks Department
· Milton Public Works Department

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