Proposed Trailhead Lot Would Help Link Conservation Areas in Westwood
A Westwood couple is interested in the building of a trailhead parking lot on High Street.
The Westwood Planning Board held a pre-application hearing last week regarding a proposed parking lot leading to family-friendly trails located at 1255 High St.
Regan Harrold of Beals and Thomas spoke for Westwood couple Mr. and Mrs. Duncan McFarland, who are proposing the building of the lot. Harrold explained that the lot would be a small, gravel lot that would hold approximately 15 cars.
The lot would be located where the old driveway from a former residence at the address stood; curbing from the driveway would be used in creation of the lot.
Harrold said that the area would be equipped with a bench, area for a bike rack and a small informational kiosk. She explained that the McFarlands have been working with Hale Reservation and the abutters of the land to have an easement across the property to create a nice trail system.
“The ultimate goal of the McFarlands is to have a link to the whole chain of conservation land throughout Westwood,” said Harrold.
She added, “In order to make this a great hiking property, they wanted to create trailhead parking.”
Harrold explained that the area, made up of two parcels and 40 acres, used to be old farm land and that it is a beautiful area for families to walk, and existing trails in town have been marked and located.
There are several areas in which the involved parties are looking for waivers, Harrold said, including landscape features and screening by using certain types of trees.
“We want to minimize the need to manicure landscaping and keep it as natural looking as possible,” said Harrold.
In the area of screening, Harrold said that they were hoping to use small trees along the frontage. She said that they would prefer not to use “lollipop looking trees” and instead use smaller trees with lower branches that would provide some screening but also look very natural.
She compared the proposed parking lot to the one located at Buckmaster Pond.
Town Planner Nora Loughnane said that in regards to screening requirements, the town requires a two-foot high impervious or two-foot high planting. To get around this, a special permit would be needed and that it can be very particular with a very high standard.
Loughnane said that the McFarlands should look into if it would be worth it to try for the special permit, or instead just use small plantings along the front of the lot.
Members of the Board appeared pleased with the project and its consideration for the surrounding wetland areas. Planning Board Chair Steve Rafsky particularly liked that the couple had been working with the abutters and all parties involved.
Planning Board Vice Chair Steven Olanoff said his only concern was for the grade of the hiking trail, and wanted to make sure it was as family friendly as possible. Harrold said that that was the intention and that there would also be a small “kids loop.”