AYER — The first informal Green Way Committee (GWC) meeting was held at the Ayer Public Library on Jan. 28 to discuss its future goals. The Conservation Commission (ConsCom) is sponsoring the GWC, and supports it by providing meeting space and direction until a volunteer leadership takes over.
The GWC will be an all-volunteer board that will work to improve and promote Ayer’s conservation lands. It will act as an advisory board to any committees needing its input.
“This has been something near and dear to my heart for many years,” said ConsCom Chairman Patrick Hughes, who arranged the first meeting.
Residents and members of several other committees attended the meeting, including the Historical Commission and the Community Preservation Committee (CPC). One of the main projects discussed was the creation and mapping of trails through conservation land, much of which has been acquired in the past two years.
One of the main ideas Hughes wanted to get across was just how much open space there is in Ayer. Most residents are concentrated in the downtown area and are unaware of it. Hughes produced two maps of Ayer that displayed a significant amount of conservation land and undeveloped space.
“We have been very successful in getting conservation land,” said Hughes.
Landowners created some of the newest parcels of conservation land, by setting aside portions of developments for conservation use. There are also many small parcels of town-owned land that are not being used, which could be turned into access points for trails, pocket parks or sold to buy or maintain more conservation land.
Another project the GWC may tackle is obtaining state funding to build covered access points to Ayer’s ponds for boats, said ConsCom and CPC member David Bodurtha. The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife could provide the funding under the condition that a percentage of the created parking is available for public use, he said.
The Rail Trail was also discussed. Resident Laurie Sable was enthusiastic about the spread of Rail Trails across the state and the country. She also mentioned that some of the neighboring towns were interested in linking up their Rail Trails.
“It seems like a nice project,” said Sable.
Promoting the Rail Trail would be good for the businesses of downtown Ayer because of it’s proximity, added Historical Commission member Ruth Rhonemous.
After reviewing these ideas, those in attendance attempted to set up some short-term goals.
Some of the first things the GWC will tackle will include building trails on a few specific parcels of conservation land and organizing a public event, such as a nature walk or a running event, to promote Ayer’s trails.
The GWC plans to meet at the Ayer library on the last Saturday of each month at 10:30 a.m.