A few weeks ago a few of our Board Members attended the Meet and Greet with Senator Paul Mark at the Chester Railway Station in Chester. We spoke to him and relayed our support of Bill H2992; State Senators Paul Mark and Nicholas Boldyga submitted state legislation (Bill #H2992
) on January 20th, 2023 to reopen Cobble Mountain Rd for passive recreation. Specified permitted activities are foot traffic, bicycling and equestrian use. On March 5th at the Chester Town Meet and
Greet, Senator Mark indicated the subcommittee to address this petition is being assembled at this time. Hilltown Hikers Director Dr. Russ LaPierre spent time writing a letter showing his support for this bill as below:
While this is exciting, opposition from Springfield Water and Sewer Commission (SWSC) should be expected. Many of us are experienced with Springfield Water Commission’s aggressive enforcement policies toward Hilltown residents to “protect” “Springfield’s” water. If the past performances are an indicator of future performance, then this behavior likely to continue. Blandford and Granville Townships petitioned Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) to reopen Cobble Mt Rd in September of 2020. DCAMM denied reopening Cobble Mountain Rd in March 2021 despite even the safety issues of increasing regional First Responders response time to almost 40 minutes from less than 20 minutes to reach Blandford. Only promising to have a key at the Cobble Mountain Rd gate is problematic. The Jersey barriers are closely spaced and may hamper fire trucks navigating the road. Seconds count in times of fire or medical emergency. State law does indicate SWSC is allowed to protect its water shed; it does not, however, condone excessive measures as ethical or legal. SWSC has failed to prove the existence of any documented threats to “their water”.
Note well that the legislation language specifies opening Cobble Mountain Rd but does not specify opening the remaining water shed area to passive recreation. Opening the road is said to be a start. A myriad of hiking and biking experiences related to flora, fauna, and geology exist in the water shed. There are many historical remains in the Hill Towns dating from pre-Revolutionary War to the early 1900s. America burgeoned from these areas and one populace from a distant location should not be allowed to disallow others from experiencing this American history.
Please sign the accompanying Document below supporting the petition to reopen Cobble Mt Rd and promptly send to the senators’ email addresses listed below. Please add accounts of encounters with SWSC’s environmental police or other organizations intimidating Hill Town residents and the effects on our communities. It still maybe reasonable to reiterate additional salient points regarding opening the remaining water shed, decimation of Granville and Blandford tax bases, effects on local businesses and most importantly, increased response time for regional First Responders.
If YOU would like to support this bill, please let our legislators know!
You can use Russ’s letter below or just write your own. Let them know how this affects all of us!
Letter Supporting House Bill # H2992 to Reopen Cobble Mountain Rd
I am resident of ______________ Township and/or travel to Blandford, Russell and/or Granville Townships for purposes of passive recreation and historical edification. We are excited for and fully support legislation of House Bill #H2992
referred to the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight sponsored by Senators Paul Mark and Nick Boldyga regarding reopening Cobble Mountain Rd to passive recreation. We also advocate for opening the surrounding water shed to passive recreation.
Springfield Water and Sewer Commission (SWSC) policies and enforcement tactics are not in line with other water shed area policies whether at the local level such as Otis Reservoir, the state level such as Quabbin Reservoir or the national level such as Lakes Mead and Powell or even Yosemite National Park.
SWSC has failed to document any legitimate threat to “their” water supply but still uses law enforcement agencies to intimidate Hill Town visitors and residents where we live. No threat in terms of mechanical, chemical, biologic, infectious nor terrorist related has ever been demonstrated to justify closing Cobble Mt Rd and the water shed.
Residents and visitors are prohibited from accessing and enjoying the natural flora, fauna and geological resources in our towns. We are denied access to American history and archaeology in our towns even though this is where America began.
SWSC has jeopardized Hill Town safety with the Cobble Mt Rd closure by increasing regional First Responders response time to Blandford and Russell Townships from less than 20 to almost 40 minutes. The Jersey barriers are likely to impede fire truck access. The promise of a key at the gates is not a good faith solution; medical and fire emergency response time in measured in seconds.
The MassDEP requested public comment in July 2021 regarding SWSC’s acquisition of Hull Forestry property to which many Hill Town residents responded. MassDEP stated, “MassDEP encourages SWSC to consider those comments (the public comments) in connection with any future land acquisition and in connection with the lands that it may already own or control. “
Please consider our past and present Hill Town experiences with the water shed and SWSC as out lined in these letters.
Word Document Below: