Click here to view text of the Gull Crest
Master Plan (Adobe's Acrobat Reader is required. Download it
Councilors approve Gull Crest
Echoing overwhelming support from the community, Town Councilors Monday night
approved a master plan for development of a trail system at Gull Crest.
Before going to the Planning Board for the proper permits, however, members
of the Conservation Commission will meet with the town engineer to identify
which trails would be most suitable for cross-country skiing.
Town Manager Michael McGovern suggested the meeting in response to the handful
of speakers who, while supporting the plan overall, suggested widening some
of the trails on the plan to accommodate cross-country, or Nordic, skiing.
Much 113-acre Gull Crest property, which was purchased by the Town in 1998,
includes trails popular with snowmobilers, hikers, mountain bikers and
cross-country skiers. The land is near the town center and is adjacent to
the transfer station.
"Six-feet is pretty narrow for anybody to ski on and successfully pass another
person," said Oakhurst Road resident David Wing, who said he teaches
cross-country skiing. He said eight feet would be adequate, but 12 feet would
John Upton and Murray Barton, speakers who have been active with the High
School's nordic ski team, also asked that at least some of the trails be
wider not only for student skiers, but for skiers in the community as well.
Rather than amend the language of the plan, however, Conservation Commission
members will meet with the town engineer to identify which trails would be
most suitable for cross-country skiing. The Conservation Commission will
then go to the Planning Board to obtain the permits needed to make the plan
No time-table has been set to complete construction, however, and the
Conservation Commission will not approach the council for funding until specific
projects come up, said Commission Chairman Mike Duddy. A master plan is needed,
however, to obtain permitting for the trails at the outset, and to serve
as a blueprint for when volunteer labor and funding for materials becomes
The system of trails would serve as the focus of a townwide trail network
envisioned in the Town's greenbelt plan. The greenbelt plan was established
in 1988, but revised in 2001 to resemble a hub-and-spoke configuration. The
Gull Crest property would serve as a hub, connecting systems to the north
and to the south.
A key element to the greenbelt, and a priority for the Gull Crest plan, is
bridge at the north end of the Gull Crest property which would connect it
to the Town Center by an existing town easement. The envisioned 12-foot span
would cross the headwaters of the Spurwink River and associated wetland,
and be a "signature bridge" for the property, Duddy said.
"The whole idea is to provide users in the town with a variety of walking
paths, or skiing paths," Duddy said. Users could walk the entire 4-mile loop,
or make a shorter walk of any of a variety of segments.
The seven speakers who addressed the council at a public hearing Monday lauded
the Town, the council and the Conservation Commission for having the foresight
to acquire the land for open space and passive recreation.
Ogden Williams, a Beach Bluff Terrace resident and a teacher at Pond Cove
Elementary School, called the Gull Crest Master Plan a "reasonable,
well-conceived, common sense document," and was especially pleased that the
bridge connecting the parcel to the Town Center was the priority. Students
in all grades will be able to do all kinds of things with such access to
the property, he said.
Sarah MacColl, Avon Road, said she served on the Pedals and Pedestrians Committee
that studied the feasibility of a bike path on Shore Road several years ago.
She lauded the plan as well, saying it fit the former committee's thinking
that hiking and bicycling should be channeled toward wilderness areas and
away from roads. "Everyone will benefit from this holistic approach, as opposed
to dodging cars on Route 77 or Shore Road," she said. "To be off the road
is just so much more pleasant an experience."
The Gull Crest Master Plan does assume volunteer labor for trail construction,
and all speakers, including a Boy Scout Master, said that they or the groups
they represent would be willing to help.
Two weeks ago the Town Council approved purchase of an easement that would
connect the southern end of the Gull Crest property to Fowler Road. The $20,000
purchase, funded by the town's greenbelt account, was part of an agreement
between the buyer and seller of property at 183 Fowler Road. Town Manager
Michael McGovern said that sale of the property is expected to close in early
The Conservation Commission is expected to meet with the Town Engineer at
their meeting Jan. 14.