Public-private partnership brings new trail to Uxbridge
A popular footpath has now become a full-blown trail thanks to a partnership with local company Hela Spice.
Representatives from the company approached Uxbridge council earlier this spring with a request to install a new shipping and receiving entrance to their facility from Capstick Lane. The move was aimed at reducing truck traffic on Franklin Street ahead of the company’s planned expansion.
“It was a win-win for the company and the Township,” said Paul Hoogenboom, president of Hela Spice. “It helps everybody, it helps us and it helps the Township.”
The company, which has been operating in Uxbridge for 20 years and employs 70 people — more than half from the local area — is nearing completion on a new, 12,500-square-foot addition, which will allow them to expand their production facility by moving warehousing into the new addition.
“Our primary concern was making sure pedestrians stay safe,” said Coun. Bruce Garrod, noting that the area proposed for the new shipping entrance is a popular pathway used by pedestrians to cut from Reach Street across to Third Avenue to access both Uxbridge Secondary School and Joseph Gould Public School, as well as other downtown facilities.
“It’s amazing how many people use this,” Garrod said.
To help address those concerns, Hela Spice reps offered to install a dedicated, paved trail along Capstick Lane and across the green space beside the baseball diamonds to Third Avenue, giving pedestrians a clear, accessible route — at a cost of more than $50,000.
“We love this community, we have a lot of people from Uxbridge that work with us so we said because the town is helping us, we want to help the town,” Hoogenboom said.
“When we first came here we only had 20 employees, now we have 70, and half of them are from Uxbridge, so the community’s been really good to us. It’s about give and take; this is a win-win for everybody. We wanted to make sure pedestrians could walk safely, and give back to the town.”
In addition to the newly-paved trail and a retaining wall to separate the shipping area, there will also be new stop signs installed coming out of the two parking lots off Capstick Lane, for the baseball diamonds and a commercial plaza that sits on the corner of Capstick and Reach.
“When we spoke with pedestrians their biggest concern was cars flying out of those driveways, so the stop signs should help,” Hoogenboom said.
As for the trail itself, pedestrians seem to welcome the new improvements.
“We’ve had nothing but compliments,” said Chuck Young, corporate controller for Hela Spice, who helped oversee the project. “Everyone is amazed that is was all done without taxpayer money.”
While the trail was considered part of the township’s trail system previously, and officially designated as part of the Ewen Trail, it was little more than a well-worn footpath. With the improvements donated by Hela Spice, the township plans to officially rename it the Hela Spice Trail, with signs scheduled to be installed later this month.
“That’s what we’re most proud of ... this was a public-private partnership, and this was the first time that’s been done on the trails and I think it really sets the standard for other local businesses going forward,” Garrod said.
“We’re really thankful for the way this worked out, that we’ve been able to improve one of our assets, improve public safety and help Hela expand, all at no cost to the taxpayer.”