BOSTON – October 4, 2016 – Today, during a celebration at Eliot Elementary School in Needham, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) joined legislators and local officials to open a public trail along the historic Sudbury Aqueduct in Needham and Wellesley. Through a MWRA Aqueduct Trails Program partnership, the Town of Needham will maintain the MWRA-owned trail.
“Through the MWRA Aqueduct Trails Program, our administration is able to help municipalities provide outdoor spaces for their residents,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Opportunities for outdoor recreation improve quality of life and respect for our environment, so our administration is working with municipalities and other partners across the Commonwealth to allow all Massachusetts residents access to the beautiful outdoors.”
“By opening aqueduct trails to the public, we can provide paths for people to commute and exercise, and open up much-needed connections to existing trails,” said EEA Secretary Matthew Beaton. “This cost-effective program is just one of the ways the Baker-Polito Administration is working to provide access to outdoor recreational opportunities to all Commonwealth residents, regardless of zip code.”
The new Sudbury Aqueduct trail is about one mile long and runs westward from St. Mary Street, across Cedar Street, along the edge of the Eliot Elementary School on Wellesley Avenue and eventually to the Needham/Wellesley Town line near Hunnewell Street. The Aqueduct Trail then continues in the Town of Wellesley.
“The program has been well received by the communities,” said MWRA Executive Director Fred Laskey. “These aqueducts are wonderfully scenic and it’s great to see people out enjoying them.”
“The Town of Needham is so pleased to make these new trails available,” said Needham Town Manager Kate Fitzpatrick. “They create opportunities for off road pedestrian paths in nature settings. Connecting Great Plain Avenue to Echo Bridge with minimal street crossings makes it a great option for families.”
In 2012, MWRA, EEA and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) announced the MWRA Aqueduct Trails Program to facilitate public access to inactive aqueducts through partnerships with local communities. This program has made available over 30 miles of trails for public use along the historic Sudbury, Weston, Wachusett and Cochituate Aqueducts.
Through the Aqueduct Trails Program, communities can enter into agreements with MWRA and assume some stewardship and operational responsibilities for trails on inactive aqueducts. Because some of the aqueducts still serve as emergency back-up for the region’s water supply system, MWRA retains care and control of the property. Only passive recreation is allowed – no dirt bikes or ATVs.
“By connecting communities through this open space initiative, public access for recreational opportunities will improve throughout the Metro West community,” said State Senator Mike Rush (D-West Roxbury).
“It is exciting to see two new aqueduct trails opening in my district following the establishment of a Natick trail back in 2012,” said State Senator Richard Ross (R-Wrentham). “I'm confident both Needham and Wellesley residents will benefit from these new public paths as they will encourage many to spend time outdoors as well as take in the beautiful landscape of their home towns.”
“It is wonderful to see the MWRA add public recreation opportunities,” said State Senator Cynthia Creem (D-Newton). “I’m sure many residents will now enjoy these new outdoor areas.”
“I’m glad to see that these aqueducts will be open to the public,” said State Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley). “Public access to these trails will promote recreational opportunities in communities across Metro West, as well as open up land that would otherwise be unused.”
The MAPC has championed this effort and has been using a federal Community Transformation Grant, in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), to provide design and trail planning assistance to municipalities.
Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EEA)
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