Milford working on a ‘connectivity plan’ for hikers and bicyclists

MILFORD ­– Someday hikers might be able to park their car at Lorden Plaza, walk along the Souhegan River’s north side to the Swing Bridge, then through downtown Milford and continue west along the Souhegan River Trail.

Or they might be able to walk from the MCAA fields on North River Road to Hayward’s Ice Cream on Elm Street. Or bicycle on bike paths from Mont Vernon to Brookline.

Those routes are part of a proposed town­wide “connectivity plan,” designed to benefit walkers, runners, bicyclists, commuters and those without transportation.

The town planning staff, with the help of the Nashua Regional Planning Commission, created the plan, outlined on two maps, one for the town center, within a ­mile radius of the Oval, and one for the entire town.

At the Planning Board’s June 17 meeting, Jennifer DiNovo, consultant to the NRPC, did a PowerPoint, presentation of the maps, showing sidewalks, water bodies, railroad tracks, the Rail Trail, natural resources and key destinations, like Town Hall, the Wadleigh Memorial Library and pharmacies.

What the connectivity plan tries to do, she said, is make a network of bike paths and trails to give people “exercise options and also safe pedestrian routes to neighborhoods and town­wide connections for those without access to transportation.”

Selectman Kathy Bauer suggested that residents go to the planning office and talk to staff about the impact of the trails on their neighborhoods and their streets.

In May, planners had a workshop with a group of invited residents to get early feedback. On the maps, bike routes are labeled beginner/hybrid, intermediate and expert. There is also a commuter route from Amherst to Wilton, and a “hero loop” that goes around Osgood Road and Ball Hill Road. The maps indicate existing public and private green space, managed trails and sidewalks, trail parking, and three proposed pedestrian bridges, one over the Souhegan River downstream of the McLane Dam, one over Armory Road to connect to the Rail Trail, and one connecting the Souhegan River Trail to a future Conservation Commission trail near Granite Town Plaza.

Future trail connections also link Adams Field to Beaver Brook land and to the Hawes agricultural preserve (Spaulding Farm).

The maps show sidewalks that are already on the town’s priorities list, including a sidewalk on Nashua Street, from Giorgio’s Restaurant to Lorden Plaza. There are trail connections going down Powers Street, Crosby Street. Ridgefield Drive and Westchester Drive, Elm Street, from Keyes Memorial Field to Hayward’s Ice Cream, and Mill and West streets to the high school.

A sidewalk goes from Hayward’s Ice Cream across to Westchester Drive and connects with a designed, but not yet existing, pedestrian route to Heron Pond School.

The connectivity plan was funded by a state grant and is available in the town planning office and on the town’s website.

Residents are invited to comment until July 31, and then the Planning Board will hold another workshop to talk about how it wants to prioritize the trails and sidewalks.