Behind 'Save the Rail Trail' signs

New signs in Salisbury urge people to "Save the Rail Trail." Town officials say there is no threat to the Rail Trail.

John Coston

Behind 'Save the Rail Trail' signs

“There is no plan to pave the Rail Trail,” First Selectman Curtis Rand.

SALISBURY — Roadside signs along Main Street that popped up this week suggesting the Rail Trail needs saving have prompted questions and concerns among some residents and town officials.

The signs, posted by a newly formed Salisbury Village Improvement Coalition, a 501(c)(4) whose members are not identified on its website, state the Rail Trail needs to be saved, but to date the plan is to preserve it.

The messaging has roots in concerns among some residents about the overall approach to plans for affordable housing on the Pope property that abuts the Rail Trail. The affordable housing proposal for the Pope property has been a subject of concern among nearby residents for months.

In letters to the editor in The Lakeville Journal beginning in January, a group has been expressing concerns about threats to the Rail Trail, population density in town, and the “fundamental nature of Salisbury.”

The mission of the new organization includes a goal to “Maintain the Rail Trail, intact and without any additional paving or designation for vehicular traffic, preserving its natural character as a central pedestrian and bike pathway.”

The signs urging people to “Save the Rail Trail,” combined with posts on social media, have suggested the Rail Trail will be paved and made into a two-lane road.

This suggestion originated from a misinterpretation of the Salisbury Village Planning Study completed by Colliers Engineering and Design in February 2024.

The study was presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission and provided recommendations for long-term planning to improve the Village center. The concepts proposed in the report are not plans, but suggestions to relevant boards and committees.

On page 16, the report states: “North of the Pope Property, the Rail Trail right-of-way appears wide enough to accommodate both two-way traffic and a pedestrian and bicycle pathway to the Rail Trail’s northern terminus at Route 44.”

Here Colliers references the potential to extend Railroad Street into the right of way of the Rail Trail and create a vehicular intersection with Main Street (explained on page 17 of the study).

The report goes on to state the Rail Trail “is an incredible open-air resource” that can improve pedestrian access to the village center: “While there are opportunities to utilize portions of the Rail Trail for vehicular connections to neighboring properties, pedestrian and bicycle access should not only continue but be improved.”

In item two of the study, Colliers presents additional recommendations for the Rail Trail that include vegetation management and repairs to uneven surfaces. To improve pedestrian safety, installing porous material on the trail that adheres to ADA accessibility standards was suggested.

The concept of paving the Rail Trail was mentioned by a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission at a meeting last month. P&Z Chair Michael Klemens has since stated, “That idea is not part of any conceptual plan developed by the Pope Land Design Committee (PLDC), nor was it suggested in the Colliers study.”

First Selectman Curtis Rand verified Klemens statement, saying, “There is no plan to pave the Rail Trail.” He went on, “There is no nefarious scheme to sell or develop it. It remains in town ownership as a valued resource.”

On Thursday, June 6, the Pope Land Design Committee will host a site visit at the Pope property on Salmon Kill Road at 5 p.m. Following the visit at 6:30 p.m., a presentation of the concept design will be given at a public information forum in Town Hall. Residents can attend in person or on Zoom. The agenda with Zoom link will be posted in advance on

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