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Trying to Walk Safely in Milford

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.

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 for you newbies) and my friends' houses, which were all off Depot Street. This was before the 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 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 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 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?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mary MacDonald (Editor) December 12, 2011 at 04:18 PM
This blog reminded me of when I was a kid, and we lived a town in the mountains with no sidewalks and winding roads, and how we used to ride around the lake to a little store called the "Mountain Jug" and get candy. It's not something I"d let a kid do today, but it was different then... And I'm not even sure our parents knew we did that. So, I'd cast my vote for more sidewalks, and that they all be on the same side of the road so you don't have to cross five times to get somewhere popular.
UglyHat December 12, 2011 at 06:24 PM
Dumb kids? Kind of harsh, isn’t it? Some of the best times I had as a kid were up at the Shadowbrook Quarry. It’s a thrill ride. There were few things like the moment before that jump. When you know you’re going to do it but you haven’t taken the leap yet. Your heart is racing. You can feel your pulse pounding in your neck. You can’t swallow. Your knees are almost buckling. Deep breath. Again. Then you jump. Everything you’ve got goes into that leap and you have 2 or three seconds of flight. Will I make it? Will it hurt? Is the water cold? Hold your breath! I know it’s not nearly as exciting as crossing the street or writing in a journal on top of a tomb. But oh, do I wish I could go back.
Mary MacDonald (Editor) December 12, 2011 at 08:50 PM
Ugly hat, to each his own. No need to make fun of us writer types.
Shannon Pataky December 12, 2011 at 11:40 PM
In all honesty, I'm terrified of heights, so the idea of jumping off a rock, over another one to clear the ledge and then that drop... that kind of bravery seems dumb to me as an adult, but obviously facinated me as a kid. I could make it about half way up before my knees started to shake.
SomeoneOrSomething December 13, 2011 at 01:19 AM
@UglyHat I'm pretty that anyonewho grew up near Milford has jumped at the quarries. I miss doing it personally, it was always a good time.
UglyHat December 13, 2011 at 03:19 AM
Just trying to make a point, Mary. I did not mean to offend you. My apologies. I've done dumb things as a kid. But I was not a dumb kid. Important difference.
Mary MacDonald (Editor) December 13, 2011 at 04:11 AM
I wasn't offended. I just thought you were unnecessarily sharp with the blog writer.
Inigo Montoya December 14, 2011 at 05:24 PM
I'm with UglyHat. II'd say more kids jumped off that quarry than didn't so calling a large part of your audience dumb is, .... well,...... dumb.
Andie December 14, 2011 at 06:15 PM
It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Or dies like this kid did a few years ago. http://www.boston.com/news/local/art...ilford_quarry/
Andie December 14, 2011 at 06:18 PM
I think I posted the wrong link the first time. Sorry. Hope this one works. http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/05/28/teen_drowns_after_falling_into_milford_quarry/
UglyHat December 14, 2011 at 06:30 PM
It is tragic whenever a child dies. But kids die in cars or crossing the street and even in supervised athletic competitions. Are those kids dumb too?
Mary MacDonald (Editor) December 14, 2011 at 06:33 PM
You're all focusing on one word in the blog, when the larger point is being missed, it seems... shouldn't Milford people expect sidewalks that take them from Point A to Point B? Why is it so hard to get that done? Can't it be made a requirment of development?
UglyHat December 14, 2011 at 06:46 PM
I’ll admit I found it difficult to focus on the bloggers point after the second paragraph – partially because I don’t care as much about sidewalks as I do about being called dumb. But I suspect the answer has something to do with balance. I’m guessing the town wishes to balance the needs of young families who would use the parks with the needs of all other residents and businesses. Every dime a town spends has to be made up through taxes or fees. And Milford has a fairly large population of older people that don’t want to be taxed out of their life-long homes. Sidewalks aren’t cheap. And not very many people walk to these places anyway. So the value of this proposition vs. others might not make the cut. Just a thought.
Inigo Montoya December 14, 2011 at 10:05 PM
Those of us that jumped off the cat and the bird developed mad no-sidewalk skills so we see no use for them.
Mary MacDonald (Editor) December 14, 2011 at 10:23 PM
This is a chicken and egg argument. If there were more sidewalks, connecting to places where people live and where they play and shop, we might have fewer cars on the roads. I lived in a place last year that had a sidewalk connecting it to a grocery store complex, and at first I thought it was going to be useless, because who wants to carry armfuls of groceries, but I found it was great to get out and grab a gallon of milk, or walk to the pizza place. So, if Milford had more connecting sidewalks, maybe we'd have fewer cars on these roads. And bike lanes, too, but I guess that's another topic altogether.
Inigo Montoya December 14, 2011 at 10:38 PM
If you look at the deed to your house, many have an easement to the town granting them 10' for improvements so there is room to build sidewalks in many areas. However, with all of the roads that need repair, its not going to be a priority to establish new ones considering the cost and impact on traffic/utilities that building sidewalks entail. Most of the fields that have sidewalks on the opposite side do that so people can park in front of the field. If you put in sidewalks, people will be parking in the road and since there is an existing sidewalk on the other side of the street, you can't go any wider.
Mary MacDonald (Editor) December 14, 2011 at 11:16 PM
Right, but what the blog refers to is the absence of a sidewalk continuation on the side of the road, Cedar Street, that does have sidewalks leading to a popular park. And the business, an athletic facility, just had a renovation. If businesses are being renovated, why not require a sidewalk to connect? ADA is a requirement now for that, for accessibility. It's a function of planning. I think too often people make excuses as to why something can't be done. Sidewalks would encourage more mobility, for people who can't drive, for whatever reason.
Shannon Pataky December 15, 2011 at 05:30 AM
wow. so much to go over here. where to begin? I guess with the elephant in the room... i wasn't in the habit of going to the quarries alone and spying on strangers, so all the people I called dumb where my friends. Unless you were one of them, you have no reason to be offended. If you are, thanks for noticing I posted my first blog and not letting me know you read it. But in the future, I'll be sure to be more specific when I'm being nostolgic, which is often. Mary, that is exactly my point. I lived on S. free street off of East Main when I moved back to town a few years ago. You could see Hannifords from my front lawn, but when I had no car for a few weeks I would walk my two kids down S. Free through the local business and pop out behind auto zone. Why? Because traffic on East Main is horrible. and it smells. And people stare at you out of sheer bordem (I've actually caught myself doing this). And with two kids under 5 walking with you with no stroller was much easier and at our own pace without the busy road so close to us. Maybe more sidewalks aren't within any budget anywhere, but if you can turn the path I used to avoid traffic 20 years ago into something SO nice, why can't we do it more? And yes, if you plan to buy a business or property in a location like the one on ceder street, if the dirt path is already excessable, you shouldn't cover it with rocks. leave it alone or make it better.
UglyHat December 15, 2011 at 02:34 PM
Okay, I just have a couple more thoughts – then I’ll shut up. Putting restrictions on renovations permits is certainly possible. But again, it’s about balance. Lets’ use the athletic facility as an example; with a restriction like that, you would be asking a private land owner to pay for the construction of a sidewalk and accept responsibility (and liability) for keeping it safe and clear of debris forever. You’re also asking the owner to pay to maintain and someday replace the sidewalk. It is reasonable to expect that some land owners might wait for tenants that do not require renovations – so they do not have to incur the additional expense and responsibility. So instead of having an athletic facility, you might have a bar or a used car lot, or a vacant building. In the case of Cedar St., it is reasonable to have a sidewalk for that small and dangerous part of the road that doesn’t have one. But having a sidewalk added to one part of one side of a street near one park is a lot different than saying “All parks should have sidewalks on both sides of the roads surrounding it.” One more thing - Inigo Montoya, that mad skills post was really funny.
Mary MacDonald (Editor) December 15, 2011 at 02:53 PM
We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. I often hear the claim that requiring businesses to do things is prohibitively expensive, but it happens routinely. They didn't want to make their facilities accessible to wheelchairs, until the Americans With Disabilities Act forced it with new construction and renovations. I'm not talking about Milford here, specifically, but just the various towns I've covered as a reporter. Not sure of the rule here in Mass., but in Atlanta, where I last owned a house, the city installed the sidewalks, but the homeowner was required to keep it clear of snow and ice, and maintain it if it fell apart. And for people who say, oh, that's not fair, well, a neighborhood with sidewalks helps sell a home...
Shannon Pataky December 15, 2011 at 06:50 PM
this paticular park has a reasonable amount of parking, and I said in the post, it's never had a sidewalk, on either side of the road. We go there for baseball games, football practice, to watch the model planes fly, the playground, it's a great park. we walk because it takes a lot out of the kids, but like I said in the post it really doesn't bother me. ww ride down Hamlet through the cemetary, but that whole road has no side walk either. There is not ONE safe way to walk/ride to that park. The park on beach street could have some parking with a little remodeling (which it desperately has needed for years), allowing some sort of safe way walking into the park. I dread this park next year when my son starts tball, but at least I can walk and not fight for parking :)
Shannon Pataky December 15, 2011 at 06:57 PM
Again, I believe this, it doesn't mean it's possible or has an ice cubes chance of happening. But improvements are possible. As for the business owner, I don't think they should have to put a sidewalk in, though it would be nice, I just think they should have to remove the rocks and open up the dirt path that was there before so people can get by so the town can ignore it for 20 more years until some kid gets killed and people with burning torches force them to add 10 feet of sidewalk. and maybe a crosswalk.
Interested Resident December 17, 2011 at 02:21 PM
I for one think that Milford should have more sidewalk coverage. It is a basic safety and infrastructure issue. This town is a busy suburban area with a large and diverse population. While most people have their own cars, it is not a given that everyone in a household does...or should for that matter. Sidewalks contribute to the health and access of all in the community, including the eldery who may still be mobile after the eyesight prevents driving safely. Homeowners should view sidewalks as an enhancement to their property rather than a burden. If the town offered to put in a sidewalk while the town was in the process of renovating their street, would a homeowner really turn that offer down because they don't want to shovel it? Do we know how much more it would cost to slowly put sidewalks into town along with the usual renovation schedule for the roads? Would the cost really be prohibitive? It is worth knowing. There really is a lot to gain from having a town with a reliable network of safe sidewalks.
Kathy January 03, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Having grown up in a town with sidewalks on both sides of every street, it enhances the neighborhood, promotes walking, and fosters more interaction between neighbors. I would gladly pay for construction of one in front of my home and gladly keep it clear of snow and debris. In my hometown, if the owner/resident didn't remove snow within 24 hours of the end of a storm, they were fined $25. for each day until the snow was cleared... and that was over 30 years ago! Kids could wait at the bus stop on a sidewalk and not on a roadway with cars turning and speeding past! My current road has no sidewalks, but my side street does and recent laws say we have to shovel it. Highway department road crews routinely pile the road snow up on the handicapped ramps to that sidewalk making it impossible to clear in a large storm. Meanwhile the property on the other side of the road has no sidewalk, yet road crews do not put the majority of snow there where it would affect no one, but block the sidewalk and handicapped ramps instead. It's a school bus stop! I was told nothing could be done about it... go figure!
SomeoneOrSomething January 04, 2012 at 05:18 AM
I remember that Andie, the quarries are pretty much in my backyard...
Shannon Pataky January 04, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Oh I didn't even think of the snow! If I wasn't out there shoveling everyday for a week not only would my then 5 year old daughter have had to wait on EAST MAIN STREET for the bus, but the bus driver wouldn't have even seen us behind the snow bank if it wasn't for the bright orange shovel... If it ever snows, I may blog about that! lol.
Teena Berry February 01, 2012 at 09:55 PM
There certainly should be more sidewalks connecting various parts of town. Sidwalks do enhance the value of residential property and enhace the visual aspect of a town as well. I grew up in a city where residents were responsible for clearing the sidewalk in front of their homes. I see many runners along Purchase St. and wonder when someone is going to get hit by a car. A sidewalk all along Purchase Street would certainly allow those folks who live along and off of that road to get to the Upper Charles Rail Trail on Dilla Street.
southpaw February 24, 2012 at 02:29 PM
I have to agree that we need more sidewalks. As someone who lives in the area of East Walnut and Mt. Pleasant St - I can attest to the fact that it is not safe for the kids to walk school. There are many places in which they have to walk in the street, because of the lack of sidewalks, and we don't qualify for the bus, even given that safety concern.
carl berke February 26, 2012 at 06:56 PM
I am sorry to have stepped on your toes as I posted a similar blog a few days ago. In the developed neighborhoods you can make this generalization: 99% of them do not use the sidewalks and insist in walking down the middle of the street, with traffic. I would suggest that it is the walkers who may have some cognitive dissonance on how to walk properly.I note that they may be miming the inner city youth who purposely scare the hell out of drivers by scofflawing. I have stopped people and asked why they feel permitted to appropriate the right of way? It is akin to not using the correct exit in a public building and it is not cool it is just uncivil and dumb.
Shannon Pataky February 27, 2012 at 05:45 PM
no worries carl, my toes are fine :) I agree with you though. Lots of people are rude about having the right away. Actually, there was some couple crossing the road yesterday, about 5 feet from the cross walk, came out from inbetween cars from on coming traffic, and the lady (which, I use that word losely) started cussing us out for not stopping... she's lucky she didn't get hit, by the time we saw them it was too late to stop. But, I admit, when I'm on a road with my kids that doesn't have a sidewalk, they walk on the shoulder, I'm more in the road. Not the middle, but noticable.

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