Swampscott Officials announced that they have received nine (9) proposals from design firms to help advance the efforts to construct a rail trail. “This is really an incredible response from some of the best design and engineering firms in New England. We are excited to see so much enthusiasm and great ideas outlined in these terrific proposals,” said Naomi Dreeben, Chair of Swampscott’s Board of Selectmen. The firms who responded with proposals include:
- Alta Planning + Design
- Beals and Thomas, Inc.
- BSC Group
- Green International Affiliates, Inc.
- Howard Stein Hudson
- Meridian Associates
- Pare Corporation
- Stantec Consulting Services
With the selection of a design and engineering team, the future Swampscott Rail Trail is taking a step toward its path to becoming a reality. There are two important items are currently underway as part of that process. These two items are part of a multi-step process supporting the conversion of the former Boston & Maine railroad branch to Marblehead (now a National Grid utility corridor) into a nearly 2-mile multi-use linear park for residents and visitors alike
At the beginning of August, the Town released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) in order to solicit project proposals from qualified firms who were interested in working on the design and engineering phase of the trail development. The Town chose to use the RFQ process in order to get a better understanding of the available talent pool and expertise as well as the methodology to undertake the important responsibility of designing and engineering how and where the trail will run along the utility corridor. Responses to that RFQ were due this past Friday, August 25. The Town received a terrific response from various firms and teams who are interested in taking on this important task. Over the next few weeks, the screening committee will be reviewing those responses and creating a short list for interviews by the Board of Selectmen at their meeting on September 13th. The interviews with the Board will be public at which a set amount of time will be given for the teams to present and for the Board and public to ask questions. The Town intends to have a contract signed with the chosen team in September, so that the design and engineering phase can immediately get underway by the end of the month.
In anticipation of the upcoming design and engineering phase, the Town Administrator has contacted all residential neighbors of the future rail trail. Letters were sent to residential property owners at the end of July to let them know about the RFQ process as well as to request in-person meetings with each property owner. The Town Administrator and Board of Selectmen are dedicated to engaging all residents that live next to the future trail to help ensure that everyone has a chance to work with the design team throughout the process. “Over the last few weeks, we have had a number of informative and helpful discussions with these in-person meetings. It has been valuable to hear the thoughts, ideas, and concerns each neighbor has about the trail before the Town begins the actual design and engineering work. The information the Town is collecting during these meetings will be provided to the selected design team so they have the important information that neighbors right next to the path hope to have considered at the beginning and throughout the project process,” said Sean Fitzgerald, Town Administrator.
The meetings with rail trail neighbors have already begun and have been well-received by those who have taken part so far. The meetings include one Town Hall staff member and one member of the Board of Selectmen – many of them being held at the owner’s home so that the Town representatives can see firsthand the personal experience the property owner will have with the neighboring future rail trail. “We’re excited to be able to personally meet the rail trail neighbors, and truly appreciate their inviting us into their backyards. It’s a great relationship that we plan to continue and strengthen as we move through the development of the trail,” said Pete Kane, Director of Community Development.
The Town’s selected consulting team will be working with Town officials, specialized professionals, rail trail neighbors, and town residents as a whole throughout the design and engineering phase. A number of public meetings will be held which everyone will be encouraged to take part in. Residents are encouraged to visit the project website to keep up-to-date on the development of the trail and its schedule. The project website also provides links to each of the RFQ responses.