Paul Martindale, Chair of the Lynnfield Conservation Commission is pleased to report that work on the planned cross-country trail on the Commission’s Pine Hill Lot property is continuing on schedule and is slated for use by the high school cross-country team in time for its Fall, 2020 season.
A proposed trail project has been discussed for many years, but execution has largely been stymied by the magnitude of the effort to define and clear an appropriate cross-country path. However, the last two years have ushered in new circumstances.
In early 2019, Troop 48 Boy Scout and high school cross-country team member Michael Madden approached Director of Planning & Conservation Emilie Cademartori with a proposal for his Eagle Scout project to develop a cross-country trail in Pine Hill Lot. Coincidentally, Cademartori had been principally involved in the development of a cross-country trail during her previous employment at the Academy at Penguin Hall school. Cademartori met with LHS cross-country team coaches Joe DiBiase and Bill Wallace to rough sketch a viable trail. With interest from the school and with a suitable path identified, Madden’s Eagle Scout project proposal was approved by Lynnfield’s Boy Scout Troop 48 District Council in May 2019.
In April 2019, Lynnfield’s GIS Analyst Patrick McDonald worked with Madden to flag the course and ascertain that the path was within the boundaries of the Pine Hill Lot and not encroaching on any abutters’ parcels. In June, the Commission notified all the abutters of its decision to proceed with Madden’s project. At its September 24 Commission meeting, Madden provided an update for members.
“I am very excited about this project,” notes Madden. “Cross-Country running is a sport for soft surfaces. Unfortunately, Lynnfield is the only high school in the Cape Ann League that runs only on pavement. Since all the other schools in CAL are partially or totally on soft surfaces, we are at a disadvantage training for away meets. We have a lot of student interest in this sport and have done well the past two seasons, winning the 2018 Baker Division CAL Championship, finishing third in the 2019 Division 6 Eastern Mass State Championship and making it to the 2019 All-State meet. Our goal is to incorporate this half mile loop into our current home course. Although this trail was designed for our cross-country team use, it’s available for all residents to use.”
Pine Hill Lot has almost always had an open space and recreation designation. In 1929, the 9.5 acre parcel belonged to Mirabeau Fresh Air Camp, Inc. It was deeded over to the Town in 1960, and at its March 1966 Town Meeting, the Town turned over the parcel’s custody and control to the Lynnfield Conservation Commission.
The property has occasionally been eyed for development. In 2002 the Town hired MassAudubon to assess the wildlife habitat and recreation value of the property. As part of its report, it was noted that “the site has excellent potential for a walking trail…and is the closest publicly-accessible open space for almost 200 homes in the surrounding neighborhood.”
Lynnfield’s 2002 Master Plan Vision for Lynnfield states that “Open Spaces will be prioritized, preserved, and made accessible to all residents for both passive and active recreation as well as for the protection of natural habitat.” Lynnfield’s 1998 Open Space and Recreation Plan lists a key goal “Expansion of Active and Passive Recreation” supported by resident survey data. The 2010 Open Space and Recreation Plan identified the important action items; “Manage and improve existing Open Space including trail creation, rehabilitation, signage and boardwalk repair,” and “Provide and/or improve public access to Open Space areas” summarized from resident survey data. At its September 2018 ConCom meeting, Lynnfield Girl Scouts Gold Award recipient Lucy Madden presented the findings of her project – the development and reporting of the town-wide open space survey, as part of the work required to update Lynnfield’s 2018 Open Space & Recreation Plan. Based on resident survey data, one of the top 5 recommendations was “Clear some paths in the Pine Hill Lot to be used for walking trails, and possibly as part of the Lynnfield High School cross-country route.” The action plan for the 2020 Open Space & Recreation Plan includes completion of this route.
“The Conservation Commission is grateful to both Michael and Lucy Madden for making this recreational space a reality. The households surrounding this Pine Hill area will now have access to a beautiful upland area that will be preserved for generations and our cross-country teams will finally have an off-road area for running,” notes Martindale. “It services our open space conservation goals by providing important recreational access for residents while preserving all the benefits of open space and wildlife habitat.”