To the Editor: As a counter to the Journal's Red Mountain article and the picture from the end of Wilcox Road (that is not representative of the trail) I offer the following comments to balance the record:
There is only one easement at this time and, as discussed during the select board meeting referenced in the article, isn't viable for maintenance. And was acknowledged as such by proponents.
Ron Weber made it a point to say that 60 percent of donations were from out-of-state or former residents. Demographics in the 05250 ZIP code imply a very small percentage of residents that would benefit and proponents have supplied no data on profiles of potential users. The dispossession of local hunters and motorsports has not been addressed and weighed against residents who stand to use the trail.
The article (and picture) imply an idyllic forest stroll — not so. The trail is arduous and that would likely limit the number of users.
With the process underway since 2017 concrete data around soft costs, projected users, environmental impacts and capital and maintenance remain unanswered. The only evidence for the project is anecdotal and based on one-off personal experiences. We can do better than that. At the least, a topographical examination and water runoff evidence would likely show the expense (high) of maintenance costs.
Three fallacies are at work here — other cities have hiking trails, so Arlington should have one too — is just keeping up with the Joneses. The fact that so many other trails exist requires the demonstration of a supreme benefit, which hasn't been done. The other is the shiny-new toy syndrome. Rather than use capital funds earmarked for improvement of the Arlington Rec Park, there is a desire to get a new project. As Vonnegut said, "everyone likes to build things and no one likes to do maintenance." Finally, at work is the siren song of sunk-costs — e.g. I already watched 40 minutes of this bad movie so I will see it to the end. Nothing could be better than using that now free time to better use. I know that many people worked very hard on this project but hard work alone is never a reason to take action.
Finally, the Journal should be more balanced in its reporting. As Churchill said, "A lie can make it halfway around the world before the truth can put its pants on."