Economic Justice
Environmental Justice
Political Justice
Get Involved
    Home page > Environmental Justice > ConComm Rules!

    ConComm Rules

    Let's allow access to Conservation Commission properties

    Randolph has a dozen beautiful conservation areas, which are controlled by the Randolph Conservation Commission (ConComm). They include the Lokitis Conservation Area the Fin-Fur-Feather Conservation Area which I've featured in grant proposals to add "Welcome" signs and recreational amenities to facilitate access. All of our conservation areas are spectacles of nature, within walking distance from our homes.

    But they're closed to the public, adorned by signs saying "No Dumping" and "No Trespassing" instead of "Welcome to your conservation area." They are not maintained at all, which means they get overgrown and become trash dumps. The ConComm has the power to change that -- to open up our natural beauty to the public with walking trails that foster physical and mental health, as well as fostering a love of nature. And the ConComm has the power to order the DPW to maintain those trails -- I propose we do that in 2024.

I proposed in 2022 and 2023 that we create walking trails in the new Jablonski property between the Dog Park and Bear Swamp, as part of a town-wide Boardwalk and Parking Place system. The CPC and ConComm objected for several reasons:

  • Adding a boardwalk thru swampy areas counts as "development" which is disallowed. I'd like to differentiate development that promotes access from other development.

  • Adding walking trail benches and trail blazes counts as "development" too. I'd like to differentiate and allow trail maintenance that encourages "passive recreation".

  • The ConComm doesn't maintain trails. I'd like to require the Randolph DPW to make a schedule for trash cleanup and trail maintenance in all of Randolph's conservation areas.

  • There's an ongoing cost to trail maintenance. I'd like to increase the DPW budget to account for the added cost, including a new "Parks and Recreation division" for that purpopse.

  • The ConComm currently has no definitions of what's allowed and what's not -- I'd like to start with making those defintions -- using a Canton Mass Audubon conservation area as the model. I think we should adopt the Mass Audubon rules to balance protection and access, because Mass Audubon has used their rules successfully for 125 years....
Last spring, I proposed "bridges" in the Jablonski acreage and Bear Swamp, This is what I meant -- simple wooden walkways to get hikers through swampy area without getting their shoes muddy. This year I'd like to propose this much cheaper version -- not a real "bridge". These sorts of wooden walkways are all over this Audubon area, and around the Blue Hills too, and would be the core of the Jablonski acreage and Bear Swamp hiking trails.
This Audubon trail has a half-dozen benches built, so hikers can take a rest and enjoy the scenery. They're placed at pretty locations -- this one overlooks a small brook -- or at "trail split" locations. You can see a signpost to the left of the bench, saying something like "0.5 miles on Trail A to the left; 0.3 miles on trail B to the right".
That yellow circle on the tree is called a "trail blaze." There's a blue circle on the other side -- so hikers in either direction can keep track of where they're going (and keep confident that they're not lost or going someplace unexpected). The Blue Hills State Park uses trail blazes extensively (except in Randolph), and describes their trails with the blaze colors indicative of hiking difficulty levels.
Sometimes trees fall right across the trail. The Audubon DPW staff took a chainsaw and cut out the part that blocked the walkway. Randolph DPW similarly should go with a chainsaw and clear the walking path -- once a year seems sufficient. The Blue Hills DCR does chainsaw work by request from the Friends of the Blue Hills trail adopters -- through which I have successfully requested chainsaw work.
A "welcome" sign plus a map is essential to making people feel like the Town of Randolph wants them to enjoy our open space. The ConComm has accepted this concept, and allowed "welcome" signs plus maps at several Conservation Areas last year. I'd like to expand that to a dozen more locations all around town, and add some other amenities to make people feel welcome--examples from Canton's Audubon open space...
Bicycling in the woods counts as passive recreation--we should encourage it in all conservation areas and open spaces. A bike rack at the entrance says "bike here with your kids and hike in, or bike into the woods if you like." Abutters object to car parking at trailheads--let's show nearby parking on the "Welcome" sign, as a positive way to say "No parking here".
Lawyers will always insist on negative signage--so the ConComm should define the rules, say them briefly,and post them, just ONCE if you feel it's needed. I'd prefer enforcement: if you really want "No Pets", then pay Town staff to give tickets to people walking their dogs--if they're not enforced, people realize they're just meaningless lawyer-talk.
Positive signage says "This area is maintained with your tax dollars so enjoy it and respect it." Note the stone pylons behind the sign--they say "Welcome" without the need for words. Note the blue-dot trail blaze on the tree--that says "Start here and enjoy your walk" without any need for language translation.
The purpose of signs should be "wayfinding": making people feel like they're in the right place and know where to go next. The signs can be small and cheap and simple. Maybe add a QR code when deep in the woods, to replace paper maps.
Look at all these wordless messages: the stone pylons shout "Welcome to walk in here." The birdhouses declare "This is a great place for birdwatching." The cleared-of-brush litter-free trail says "We maintain this for your enjoyment." Those are what the ConComm SHOULD be saying about EVERY conservation area!
And for closing, here are a pair of videos about the Reservoir Walk, which includes the Fin-Fur-Feather Conservation Area. These two new "Welcome" signs in the videos were funded by the Community Preservation Committee, who I'd like to ask for more, with the ConComm, in spring 2024. They'll authorize more funding IF the ConComm signs on!

The CPC funded putting up two signs at the Reservoir Walk this year, "opening" this recreation area to the public. I'd like to put up two more, sponsored by the ConComm, and add a couple of boardwalks and benches and some trail blazes, just like Mass Audubon does.

This ConComm area just off Oak Street -- and a mile-long trail -- needs trash cleanup, grass cutting, and signage. Watch the video at 17:50 to 18:30 -- where a flock of geese take off into the sunrise -- then explain why the people of Randolph and Braintree should be blocked from experiencing that spectacle of nature.

Committee to Elect Jesse Gordon, 52 West St, Randolph MA 02368

Home > Events |