Several Medfield roads have recently been resurfaced using the infamous “oil and chip” technique, sometimes also referred to as “tar and chip”, “chip seal”, or “seal coat”. An asphalt/oil/polymer emulsion is spread on the substrate (usually the existing, but cracked and worn asphalt surface), and then loose aggregate is applied on top of the “oil”. The aggregate is then rolled into the “oil”. The idea is that the “oil” will bind with the aggregate and form a durable top layer that protects the road and slows further erosion of the surface. The “oil” and the aggregate are made from the same materials as regular blacktop (tar and stone). (more…)

Thanks to the help of some folks from Needham and Medfield, a rail trail task force is forming. The trail has been named, and a web site is up. Visit for more info about the trail and ways to participate.

A message from Osler Peterson:

“1 – Please take time to vote in the Medfield town election this coming Monday, March 30 at The Center at Medfield.

2 -Medfield TV responded to the request I made when I learned that their new video equipment records selectmen meetings digitally, and as of this week they have started to upload the meetings on-line – see Now you can watch your selectmen meetings any time it is convenient for you. “

Have you ever wondered how the town spends your tax dollars? Here is one way they are doing it.

On snowy days, your money is used to pay for the street plow to come by and plow your road. Then after a little while, it is used to pay for the sidewalk plow to plow the sidewalk. Then, it is used to pay the street plow to plow the street a little more, gaining an inch or two, while completely filling in the sidewalk again. After all, in order to go 60 mph in a 30 mph zone, the road needs to be as wide as possible.
Then, your money is used to pay the sidewalk plow again to clear the sidewalk. Then …
You get the point. This goes on 4 or 5 times a day. Unfortunately, every time the sidewalk is plowed, I lose a chunk of my front lawn, along with the occasional sprinkler head. (more…)

These plans were filed with the Registry of Deeds in June of 2008 and show the exact location of the access easement that will provide a pedestrian and bicycle connection between Woodcliff Hills and the northern side of town on one hand, and Green Street and the center of town on the other hand. At least that was the idea that was discussed in all the planning board meetings.

This month, the award goes to …  (more…)

A Doppler radar gun purchased on Ebay, 50 feet of Cat5 cable, a soldering iron, and a little bit of .Net programming skills were the ingredients for this low-cost (< $200) traffic data logging system. The radar detector works flawlessly, but if there is a cluster of cars going by the house, not every single car is detected, which means that the number of cars is underreported. I record the video streams of the security cameras to a network storage device and keep the data for 2 weeks. Correlating the video images from the web camera with the speed readings is a fun and interesting exercise ("who just flew down the street at almost 60 mph?"). Does this really work? See for yourself. Just refresh this page (by pressing F5, for instance) after you saw a car going by in the video above and the statistics below will be updated, including the count and most recent speed.

For some time now Medfield Parks and Recreation has been pushing plans for a new center in various locations of the town. If you read the Medfield Hometown Weekly this week, you probably saw a good summary of the history of the project, as well as of the arguments for and against it. (more…)

I am looking for like-minded individuals who are interested in forming a local Bike Advisory Committee.
Initially, I see this group working on getting funding and town approval for the construction of bike paths on several of the Medfield streets (North St, South St, and Green St come to mind).
Please read this guide published by MassBike (Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition) and if you are interested in joining and maybe helping in forming and serving on the board of a 501(c)3 corporation, contact me.


Our town has a lot of potential for the development of bike paths and trails, but for now there seems to be potential only. I have not heard of or seen evidence of any actual projects. I am particularly interested in the Millis-Medfield-Dover-Needham rail corridor (I believe this is part of what was formerly called the ‘Bay Colony’ line).
Does anybody have information about existing plans or prior initiatives for converting the rail corridor into a multi-use trail? This trail would be a hit. Imagine being able to safely bike to the Needham train station … this would be so much fun with the kids. Having used the Minuteman bike trail in Arlington and Lexington almost daily for some time, I appreciate the recreational value of a multi-use trial.
According to maps on, the MBTA has ownership of the Right of Way for this section. The line is desolate, though, and no longer seems to be usable. Particularly the bridge over the Charles no longer seems to be passable, not on foot, let alone for a train. I would actively support and participate in an initiative with the goal to convert the Bay Colony line between Millis and Needham to a bike path. Are there any other supporters? Anybody who can educate me about why this has not already been done?

Realizing that such projects face many obstacles in other communities (see Holliston, for example), I am enough of an idealist to at least educate myself a little bit about the possibility.

You have probably heard that on Febrary 17, 2009, all analog TV stations in the country will stop broadcasting, and analog TV sets will no longer function without a so-called digital converter box. The government is issuing up to two $40 coupons per household that can be used towards the purchase of such converter boxes. These devices sell between $50 to $70 at local retailers. Here is a link to the government’s website where you can sign up for the coupon program.

What you may not have heard is that you don’t have to wait until February 2009 to switch to Digital TV, because stations in the area already broadcast digital channels today. I made the switch yesterday, and I am so impressed with this technology that I decided to share my enthusiasm.
For the past several years I have been using indoor antennas sitting on top of the TV sets to receive the basic local channel lineup, with modest results. The image was often grainy and it was not really a pleasure to watch TV at all, which was fine with me and motivated the kids to do other things – a not entirely unintended side-effect of not signing up for cable or FIOS-service.
I did make the decision to buy a 160 inch outdoor antenna and install it in the attic for the switch to DTV. The house is only 3 years old and wired for cable, so it was an easy task to feed the antenna signal into my home’s cable wiring and get rid of the unsightly indoor antennas (I have yet to work on the proper grounding – yes, even attic-installed antennas need to be grounded).
I purchased this one at Radioshack and it took no more than 30 minutes to assemble it, install it on top of the collar beams, and connect the lead-in cable to the input connector of a splitter that was already present in the attic. Even without using a converter box, the resulting picture is substantially better than it was before. I am not using an antenna amplifier and have 7 cable outlets in the home. I did terminate all unused outlets, though.

Antenna installed above collar beams

Antenna installed above collar beams

One thing to note is that the correct cable must be connected to the splitter’s input connector – the one that carries the antenna signal. I had to switch the connectors around so that the antenna lead-in is connected to the attic splitter’s “in” connector, and the attic feed is connected to the other splitter’s input in the basement (where normally your cable feed is hooked up).

A 4-way antenna splitter

A 4-way antenna splitter

Once the converter boxes were connected and configured, I was blown away by the picture quality and the number of channels that I am now able to receive. Here is the lineup of all channels that I am receiving today:

For a convenient overview of what’s on, I go to

Some of these channels broadcast in Standard Definition (SD), some in High Definition (HD). Note that with Digital TV there are up to 4 sub-channels for each primary channel. All channels have on-screen programming information.

Digital TV over the air is free, there are more channels than with conventional over-the-air TV, and the picture quality is the same as with cable service – full HD (1080). If you are happy with basic channel line-up, there is no longer a need to pay for cable while still enjoying top-quality picture quality.

The only drawback: If the signal falls below a threshold, there will be dropouts in the audiostream and artefacts in the picture that make it impossible to watch that channel. It is not longer possible to watch channels with poor reception.

One more word of advice: There is no such thing as a digital TV antenna, or even a ‘digital-ready’ antenna. Digital broadcasts use the same transmission technology as analog and are all in the UHF band. Convential TV antennas work perfectly fine, and everybody who claims otherwise is either misinformed or attempting to profit from spreading misinformation.

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 Easement Map

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.

Woodcliff Easement Map

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.


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