When we moved into the Green Street area last year, I soon found out about the trail system that starts at the end of Erik Road and ultimately lets me take my kids on a 2-hour walk through Rocky Woods without having to get in the car. We have been taking advantage of this all year round. Obviously, when I recently noticed survey markers in the area off Erik Road for a new development going in, I became concerned about losing access to the trails. I decided to research the details of the project, and what I found is interesting enough to be made available to others. It turned out that my biggest concerns are addressed:
- The plans for the new subdivision explicitely require that there will be no connecting road between Eric Road and Rt 109 (through the “Woodcliff Hills” subdivision)
- Trail access to Rocky Woods will be preserved through trail easements and pedestrian easements
Here are all the details. First, I stopped at city hall. While neither the Zoning Board of Appeals nor the Building Department were able to give me any specific information (I was particularly interested in maps that showed any existing easements), I learned that there is quite a history about this new development planned at the end of Erik Road, and that the Planning Board had tried since 1993 to prevent this development from going in, but ultimately lost the case against owners Edward & Bonnie Musto in a 2002 court decision (see below).
Next, I researched the Erik Road Extension development plans at the Norfolk Registry of Deeds web site. Luckily, I found the plan that I was looking for (click on the image at the top of the article for an enlarged view).
Here is a word of caution: In order to view documents on the Registry’s web site, you must install a browser plug-in called BrownTifViewer (an ActiveX control). The intent of the component is to prevent you from saving any document images, taking screen shots using the PrintScreen key, or from printing documents. It contains a keyboard handler that remains active even after you leave the Registry site, and it will therefore mutilate your environment. This can be fixed easily, though – either by uninstalling the BrownTech Image Plugin application from the Control Panel (Add or Remove Programs), or by disabling it temporarily using the Internet Explorer’s Add On Manager.
The map shows that there will be two trail easements at the end of the cul-de-sac that will connect Erik Road Extension to the existing trail system in Woodcliff Hills. This made me very happy.
Since I had been using the trails in Woodcliff Hills for a while, and since I had been concerned about trespassing for a while (some of the trails run very close through the backyards of the mansions in the subdivision), I decided to continue the research and check for easements in Woodcliff Hills, too.
Woodcliff Estates Easement Map
I found this wonderful easement map on the right (click on the image to enlarge the map). It shows that there are indeed easements on all northern lots of Minuteman Road that provide two continuous trails into Rocky Woods. One (easement #12) connects to the trail east of Flint Locke Lane and leads to the Wilson Swamp Trail in Rocky Woods. The other (easement #5) provides access to Cheney Pond Trail and Ridge Trail from lots 32/33 through Minuteman Road, Vine Brook Road, Sturbridge Road and lot 9. All these trails are well-maintained and clearly visible. The easement between lots 32 and 33 consists of a gravel trail that leads from the woods up to the sidewalk on Minuteman road.
Easement on 78 Flint Locke Lane
There was only one thing left to do. There is a section of the trail that runs up behind lot 5 on Flint Locke Lane (extension) and then ends in the backyard of 78 Flint Locke. As the subdivision plan reveals, there is indeed a pedestrian easement on this property. It is not difficult to find. The map shows a 20′ wide strip along the border of lot 6. In the “Inventory of Medfield Trails & Recreational Lands”, a leaflet published by the Friends of Medfield Forest & Trails, I found the following description: Access between #78 and #82 Flintlocke Lane – walk down the hill keeping to the left of the white fence.
This easement allows us to leave our bikes at the end of Erik Road and walk a shorter loop from Erik Road using the trail that leads around the pond up to Flint Locke Lane, then back to Green Street, Partridge Road and Erik Road.
Thank you Planning Board, Map & Trails Subcommittee, and whoever else was responsible for making sure that trail easements are part of the Woodcliff subdivision plans.
For your reference, a trail map of Rocky Woods Reservation is available on the The Trustees of Reservations web site.
Property ownership and assessment information for Medfield is available here.