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Marlborough trail projects get approval

WICKED LOCAL MARLBOROUGH – Two marathon length trail proposals, including one that will weave through the “Boroughs” communities, took a step forward last week, as the City Council approved conceptual plans for both projects.

Councilors gave the green light to the proposed Boroughs Community Trail Loop, a more than 30-mile trail linking Marlborough, Northborough, Southborough and Westborough, and the Panther Trail, a 26.2-mile loop around the city connecting existing trails and parks.

“It was one step we needed to get things rolling,” Conservation Officer Priscilla Ryder said of the City Council’s approval.

Last month, the city’s Open Space Committee recommended the approval of both plans.

The Boroughs Community Trail Loop will connect the four Boroughs communities through existing routes, such as the Sudbury Reservoir Trail in Southborough, and new paths to make the loop, which would be an outlet for exercise and increase connections among the four communities, Ryder told the Open Space Committee last month.

In 2012, the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation received a grant to study the feasibility of creating the loop. A committee determined the creation of a regional trail would encourage the exploration and enjoyment of natural resources across the four communities.

The committee recently submitted a plan to officials in each community and is working with state agencies to secure grant funding and get permission to connect trails across roadways, railroads and parkland, said Ryder.

Recommended as part of the city’s Open Space and Recreation Plan, the Panther Trail will connect several existing trail systems in the city, including paths at Ghiloni Park, Lake Williams, the Mount Ward and Felton conservation areas and Callahan State Park to for a marathon-length trail across the city.

Open Space Committee member Mark Oram called the Panther Trail a “fantastic idea” that will benefit city residents during a meeting last month.

City officials plan to connect the trails at various recreation and conservation areas through existing infrastructure, such as sidewalks. Other sections are part of development plans to be constructed in the near future, such as the Forest Street trail connection through the mixed-use overlay district, and proposed sidewalks on Hayes Memorial Drive.

Ryder hopes work on both trails will begin sometime this summer. Many community service groups, such as the Boy Scouts, have expressed an interest in helping with the project.

“That’s still the plan,” Ryder said of beginning work this summer. “We’re a little ways from that now.”

This article by Jeff Malachowski originally appeared here.