A Falmouth Boy Scout faced opposition and received backing at the board of selectmen's June 2 meeting for his proposition to build a small bike park off the Shining Sea Bikeway near Ter Heun Drive.
“A lot of who will use the park will be from off the street and will loiter,” said Hilary F. Nolan of Palmer Avenue. His property is right next to the proposed site. “We all know the bike path is open 24 hours, and my house has been broken into at night,” he said.
Ryson Phares, 16, a junior at Sturgis Charter Public School East and Boy Scout Troop 40 member, fielded several questions from the board and audience members for almost one hour. In the end, chairman Mary (Pat) Flynn asked Ryson to return to the board with a more detailed plan after he speaks to the police and public works departments. “I do, however, applaud you for your creative proposal,” she said.
“I think it will be a great resting place for people walking up the hill to the hospital from Palmer Avenue and for cyclists to take a break. There really isn’t a great place to stop on the path from West Falmouth to Woods Hole,” said Anne C. Saganic, a West Falmouth resident.
Ryson hopes this project will satisfy the service project requirement to become an Eagle Scout. He wants to add amenities to the open space aimed at cyclists, including granite slab benches, two bike racks and two access points. “I see this as an area for passive recreation, a place for people to rest or eat,” he said.
He envisions using Boy Scout manpower to remove brush and create a crushed stone path and is seeking donors to supply the material for the benches.
Selectmen voiced traffic-related concerns and audience members cited a myriad of reasons for squashing the project—increased litter and loiterers, removing an “historic” old stone wall in the open space, and that there are alternative places along the path to rest. But supporters say the park would be a welcomed addition to Falmouth’s public spaces and add to the overall bike path experience.
Selectman Douglas H. Jones said he worried the park would increase the number of people crossing the busy intersection adjacent to the proposed park and selectman Susan Lynn Moran asked Ryson if he had conferred with the traffic advisory committee when drawing his plans.
“I don’t see this park as a high-activity area, but I will take your suggestions to improve the plan,” Ryson said.
Edward S. Gross, chairman of the bikeways committee, said the hospital intersection is very pedestrian friendly and has “on demand” buttons. “I’m delighted he came up with the idea. It’s a lovely spot but it’s inaccessible. His plan makes it accessible,” Mr. Gross said.
Mr. Nolan’s wife, Paulette B. Nolan, told the board members they had a “cavalier attitude” toward the project because it was being proposed by a Boy Scout.
“We still don’t know the full plan—where the benches and the access points will be. My husband and I are already picking up trash there. We don’t need another location that the town has to clean up,” she said.
Bob Fitzpatrick of Friends of Falmouth Bikeways said the park fits the town’s open space policy.
“It would allow public access, would be accessible for all and safe for a multitude of uses. It fits in nicely with the experience of cycling,” he said.
The project has received the go-ahead from both the bikeways committee and the conservation commission.
Ms. Flynn suggested Ryson should confer with town departments to weigh in on the plan and then come back to the board.