Hearing on rail trail, Ridge Hill requests

Local officials will hold a public hearing Wednesday to review two outdoor recreation projects that are seeking a total of $228,000 from the town’s Community Preservation Act program. The Community Preservation Committee hearing, slated for 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall, will focus on the Bay Colony Rail Trail and the Ridge Hill Reservation’s swamp trail boardwalk projects, both of which are on next month’s Special Town Meeting warrant. The committee screens and makes recommendations on applications for CPA funds, with the final decisions made by Town Meeting voters. Supporters of the Bay Colony Rail Trail hope to gain approval for a 99-year lease with the MBTA providing access to Needham’s 2-mile portion of the unused rail bed. The $1 lease agreement would pave the way for the town to build a passive recreation trail, using a combination of public and private funds, between Needham Junction and the Charles River; plans call for the trail to continue into Dover and then into Medfield. However, town officials are seeking $45,000 from the CPA coffers for an insurance policy against possible contamination being discovered on the trail during construction. The committee will also discuss a request by the Conservation Commission for $183,000 to build a boardwalk on a swampy section of the Ridge Hill trail and rebuild a bridge over a nearby stream. The bridge was built about 20 years ago and is deteriorating, according to town documents. Town Meeting previously granted $58,000 for design and permitting costs, according to documents. More information on the hearing is available on the town’s website, www.needhamma.gov .