As an almost life-long resident of Milford, I've walked many places in this town. Growing up in the Plains planted me on the opposite side of town as my favorite local hangout (the Skate Palace, now known as PinZ for you newbies) and my friends' houses, which were all off Depot Street. This was before the Milford Upper Charles Trail. Well, before it was paved, I should say.
I always remember those days when I take my kids down the bike path. Because walking through town on roads was always an adventure (and a longer walk in our minds) my friends and I would take this path, from Fino Field to Depot Liquors, behind the tile company, past tons of back yards, to get back and forth. We would have to push our bikes back then because the railroad tracks were still there, and that wasn't fun to ride on. If it was a hot day, we'd hop on a different path at Fino and head to Shadowbrook, in search for the "secret quarry path" to go watch the dumb kids jump off the cat (a death defying jump off the top of the quarry). Of course, now the days of hiding and trying to cross Dilla Street without getting caught trespassing are gone, but it still tickles me that childhood shortcuts have become one of the most popular spots in town. These paths allowed my mother to not freak out that I was walking down busy roads to get across town, because for some reason walking down remote paths seemed safer to her.
I was reading an article on another news site this morning about a sidewalk on Cedar Street. Parents are complaining that they can't safely get to Rosenfeld Park now that the new business has added landscaping. Some are even saying the business owner should have added a sidewalk. Again, being an old stomping ground, I clearly recall two things on Cedar Street at this spot. 1. Learning to drive and coming around this corner too fast, nearly killing my mother and me, and 2. Walking to St. Mary's Cemetery to enjoy the view from the top of the tomb. I know No. 2 is a little odd, but as a teenager I wrote a lot, and for some reason, perhaps the quiet, perhaps the audience, this was my favorite place to place my teenage angst, in a torn-up, black, 5-star notebook. I regress. Because of No. 2, I know for a fact that there has never been a sidewalk there. And the turn is sharp enough to warrant a very mangled guardrail across the street, making it a hard place to cross.
The article made me think about how to walk safely today. As a resident who lives off Hayward Street, walking through the Plains is still something I enjoy. My boyfriend and children get frustrated when I walk toward East Main Street and make them cross the road three times. The sidewalk stops at East Walnut, so we cross there, then it stops again at the little brook, so we cross there too, and usually we are heading toward Fino, so eventually, we cross again. It's a hassle. And they just fixed all the sidewalks and repaved this road. But it doesn't bother me. This is a trait of Milford. Most roads only have one sidewalk, and usually, you'll have to cross the road to stay on it.
I do not deny that the town should work on getting safer routes through town. Crosswalks and more sidewalks would make it safer. All parks should have sidewalks on both sides of the roads surrounding it. Let's review the park situation here for a moment... There is this park on Cedar Street, with no surrounding sidewalks, the park off Beach Street, the sidewalks are on the opposite side of the road on both of the streets that surround it, the field on the corner of Congress and West Fountain, known as Tank Field, with no sidewalks OR parking. Most of the parks in town are used for town sports or have playgrounds.
So, I guess this is where I stand: torn. Should I embrace my towns "uniqueness," as it's always been this way, or should I be concerned? Do I request more safety for my kids and yours? I know I've learned to be a patient and attentive walker AND driver following years of watching my life flash before my eyes trying to cross these roads, but do I want to risk my kids getting hit? What do you think? Are these life lessons or has the traffic in Milford become so heavy, and fast, that it's just not safe to walk anymore?