METRO WEST DAILY NEWS – Local distance runners may soon have two new areas to train, as the city’s Open Space Committee signed off on conceptual plans for two trails of at least marathon length, including one that will wind through the “Boroughs” communities.
Conservation Officer Priscilla Ryder presented plans for the proposed Panther Trail, a 26.2-mile loop around the city that will connect existing trails and parks, and the Boroughs Community Trail Loop, a more than 30-mile trail linking Marlborough, Westborough, Northborough and Southborough, to the Open Space Committee Monday night.
The Boroughs Community Trail Loop would 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 said during Monday night’s meeting.
“I think it’s a great idea,” she said.
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, said Ryder.
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.
Ryder hopes work to link the existing trails across the four communities will begin sometime this summer.
Along with creating a loop around the Boroughs communities, Ryder and city officials are seeking to connect trails and parklands across Marlborough to create a 26.2-mile path circling the city.
“I think this would be really exciting,” said City Councilor Donald Landers.
Recommended as part of the city’s Open Space and Recreation Plan, the Panther Trail would 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 form a marathon-length trail across the city.
“I think this is a fantastic idea,” said Open Space Committee member Mark Oram. “I think it will enhance the city of Marlborough’s opportunities. It will only benefit the people that live and work here.”
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, said Ryder.
Ryder is also hopeful work on the Panther Trail will begin this summer. Many community service groups, such as the Boy Scouts, have already expressed an interest in helping with the project.
“I don’t think I’ll have any problems getting volunteers,” she said.
This article by Jeff Malachowski originally appeared here.