A key, unfinished segment of the planned Neponset River Greenway system must run between the current terminus of the bike trail at Central Avenue in Milton and Mattapan Square. While a master plan for phase two of the Greenway system, released last year by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, gives a good roadmap for how to bring the trail from the Blue Hills to Mattapan Square, the riverfront connection between Central Ave. and the square remains unresolved in the plan.
The key issue, to date: Which side of the river should the trail run down?
Ian Cooke, executive director of the Neponset River Watershed Association, believes that state planners decided to focus on the path of least resistance to move the next phase forward incrementally.
"I think at this point the section from Central Ave. to Mattapan Square is still somewhat contentious," Cooke says. "They've finished the master plan from Paul's Bridge (in Hyde Park) and (the DCR) are starting to do some of the less expensive early action items along Truman Parkway."
Community forums were held earlier this year to discuss creating temporary bike lanes along Truman Parkway as a precursor to a more permanent path along property that the DCR now controls along the river.
State Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, who represents both Boston and Milton sides of the river, says she hopes to resolve the question this year.
"I definitely support extending the greenway path that we have now up to Central Avenue through to Mattapan Square and Hyde Park," said Forry. "It's an issue as to whether to do the bike path on the Milton or Mattapan side. "I think as long as we get it done, that's what's important. Milton may not want it, if that's the case we need to see if the (Boston) community would let us move it to the city side."
"This is a tremendous asset, the Neponset River, and it is something that would be wonderful if people had access to it," Forry said. "People on the Mattapan side, particularly, are for more access and we can reach out to them in terms of [extending the bike path]."
Still, Forry and others acknowledge that choosing the right route is not the only barrier in the way of the bike path's extension.
"Right now there isn't the funding for it. I think funding can be found. It can't happen now, but in a couple years we could work on to completing that project," Forry said. "We can do housing all we want, business development, but it's also important to have green space, a place where people can bring their families."
Editor's Note: News Editor Patrick McGroarty interviewed State Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry for this article. She is the wife of Reporter managing editor Bill Forry. For more information on the present master plan for phase two of the Neponset Greenway, see the DCR's website: mass.gov/dcr/pe/neponset.htm