Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Paugussett's Unlikely "Chalk Hill Road"

The Paugussett Trail runs down the length of the never-completed Chalk Hill Road
The Paugussett runs through an interesting wooded peninsula that intrudes far into a large meadow along Meadow Street, opposite Mayflower Lane.  A wide mowed path extends up the length of the peninsula, and if hikers look close they can see overgrown dirt ridges up to 8 feet tall on either side of the wooded corridor. Pioneering trees like gray birch and white pine are growing up through heavy brush, promising a future forest. What is this place? Why does it look like this?
End of the brushy peninsula that would have been the cul-de-sac
A filed subdivision map dated 2003 provides part of the answer. The brushy peninsula follows the outline of what is identified as "Chalk Hill Road" on the map. The 21-lot approved subdivision plan was called Wiacek Farm Estates.

Part of the approved subdivision plan, filed in 2003
Although the City had been attempting to purchase the property, the developer had the proper approvals and began construction by stripping the topsoil from what would be Chalk Hill Road, and stockpiling the dirt next to the future cul-de-sac. Road grading then began, but before it could be completed, the City stopped the project and seized the property through eminent domain. The land is located next to the high school, affording room for future ballfields or other facilities if needed, and the property was also highly rated for open space acquisition for the City's greenway program.

After the City purchased the property, the excavated areas were left untouched. The ground could no longer be hayed, and the disturbed areas filled in with weeds. There was talk of having city crews restore the land, but there were more pressing matters to attend to. In the meantime, the abandoned roadway seemed like a good spot to route the Paugussett Trail across the hayfield, and the Trails Committee began mowing a pathway down the length of the peninsula.
2012 - The stockpile of topsoil was just removed. 
The pile of topsoil disappeared a few years later, used on the newly expanded Long Hill School ballfields. And the weedy corridor evolved into brush and then small trees.

So that's the story. Today we have a nice wooded corridor that seems almost as if it were created specifically for the Paugussett Trail.

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