By Josh Maislin
On Monday, May 13, Mayor Joseph Curtatone and other officials hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to commemorate the first extension of Somerville’s Community Path in over 18 years. The path will be extended a quarter-mile east from its current terminus at Cedar street, to Lowell Street.
Mayor Curtatone began the ceremony by outlining the long term vision for the Community Path. “We’ll get the Community Path to the border of Boston, along with the Green Line extension. We’ll link the Community Path with the Minuteman Bikeway. This is only the beginning,” said Mayor Curtatone.
Throughout the event, speakers highlighted how community activism had played an integral role in implementing the Community Path extension project. “Letters, emails, phone calls, petitions, meetings, more meetings, probably [even] more meetings. I have seen every one of your faces at these events to make this happen. If anyone deserves a pat on the back it’s each and every one of you,” said Ward 5 Alderman Courtney O’Keefe.
Members of the state delegation, including Sen. Pat Jehlen and Rep. Denise Provost, spoke about financial and political hurdles in making the Community Path extension a reality.
“How many people pay federal income tax? How many people here pay state income tax? How many people pay gas tax to Massachusetts and the Federal Government? Thank you all for the Community Path. It takes money to build this project. What we’re about to do in the Transportation Finance Plan is not sufficient, but it’s better than nothing,” said Sen. Jehlen, indicating a need for “adequate and fair” taxation to support these public projects.
Representatives of Friends of the Community Path, the primary advocacy group for the Community Path extension, reiterated the need for political willpower and financial support. “It’s really important to understand that even a little project like this, which is tied to the Green Line, is tied to the entire state transportation budget. People should really pay attention to that,” said co-founder Lynn Weissman.
After the speeches, it was picture time. Public officials and advocates posed with shovels in their hands to commemorate the groundbreaking. Mayor Curtatone then urged any children that could be rounded up to take part in the shovel-holding extravaganza.
The current phase of the extension will cost $2 million dollars and is planned for completion in fall 2013.