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Seeks solutions for all sides at Hill's Hill

This letter was submitted by Martha Rogers of Rockaway Lane, A​rlington:

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The Park and Recreation Commission is currently ​evaluating​ a project on Hill's Hill near the Burns Ice Rink that at first glance appears to pose a conflict between environmental stewardship and youth recreation. However a small team of people removing invasive plants in the area is offering some other ways to view the situation.

Hill's Hill itself is a hidden woodland jewel, where native plants are gradually regaining ground after this determined team has pulled out many invasive plants in the area. As one of the team removing invasives, I was thrilled to see two tiny oak trees with their oversized, sun-thirsty leaves come into view from among the tangle of invasive plants.

Also on Hill's Hill, mountain bikers occasionally dash across its tiny meadow and small oasis of wildlife. This same site is where the Park and Recreation Commission is evaluating​ a pump track (a circular loop consisting of rollers and berms, that when ridden correctly requires no pedaling or pushing).

A pump track offers a healthy, exciting challenge for young people. At the same time, its construction and frequent use would threaten the fragile returning vegetation at the currently proposed location. So how can we have it all? How can Arlington preserve Hill's Hill as one of our few woodland areas, engage our young people in environmental restoration/ education/ maintenance -- and also support the pump track?

The team of invasive-weed pullers is proposing an Eco-trak on Hill's Hill where bikers can ride but also participate in maintaining and restoring the area in which they ride​.​ ​Th​is innovative concept linking recreation with engagement in the natural area supporting that activity is a clear win for future generations who are inheriting an earth in great peril. ​Nature's smallest classrooms hold big learning opportunities.

The second part of the solution is finding a location for the pump track that will be accessible and well-suited to the construction that it requires. The small meadow on Hill's Hill is barely enough space for a pump track without removing further vegetation, and it is not even a level surface.

A pump track can be built above ground. Where is a mowed field in town that is suitable for design and construction with youth involvement and without imperiling Arlington's small, remaining green spaces?

I advocate for a win-win for both of these creative proposals. A pump track and an Eco-trak are not either/or. They are both/and. Each engages youth in life-affirming activities.

Stakeholders for both proposals can model inclusion and civil discourse​ over the coming months​ ​and​ also engage our youth in the process. ​We need everyone's voice in​ these​​ exchange​s​ as they unfold.​ Speak, write, reflect together. The first of many opportunities for input is ​a​ Park and Recreation Commission zoom hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2. With creative open dialogue we can find solutions that uplift all of us.


This letter was published Wednesday, July 27, 2022.

 

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