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Photo and article from
Waltham News Tribune,
September 4, 1999

Photo of path through woods to school for Sept. 4 article, by christine seymour.jpg (50655 bytes)

Vincent Sammartano donated part of his land for a path to Waltham High School. Sammartano has since moved.

Staff photo by Christine Seymour,
by permission of the Waltham News Tribune

Clear path for neighborhood

Residents in Forest Street area finally get walkway to WHS

by Christine Seymour

WALTHAM-Until recently, people who live in the Forest Street area could peek through the woods at Waltham High School, but had to travel about two miles to get there.

Although the brick back wall of WHS is clearly visible from the cul-de-sac at the end of Amelia Drive, the fastest paved route to the school took about 10 minutes.

Now, thanks to the generosity of a former Amelia Drive resident, people will be able to walk about 150 yards on a path that cuts straight from the end of the cul-de-sac to the parking lot behind WHS.

Vincent Sammartano, who lived at 35 Amelia Dr. for almost 20 years, donated a 6-foot-wide strip of land along the side of his former yard this spring to be used for a walking path.

His donation put to rest a two-year battle by residents of the neighborhoods along Forest Street to make trips to the high school a little easier and safer.

When Pigeon Hill Estates and the surrounding neighborhood were developed in the mid-1980s, people who bought the new lots were told there would be direct access to WHS, according to Cynthia Piantedosi.

"The developer told us that path would be built, but it just never happened," Piantedosi said. "It was kind of frustrating."

Piantedosi, who lives on Forest Park Drive, said the original plans for the neighborhood included an easement at the end of Amelia Drive that would eventually become a path.

That promised path was never built, so neighborhood children began cutting through an empty lot at 40 Amelia Dr.

The makeshift path worked well enough, until someone bought the empty lot and built a house there

According to neighbors, the new owners called police every morning and afternoon to report teenagers trespassing on their land. Eventually, people started to cut through Sammartano's property.

The house at 40 Amelia Dr. was sold recently, and a woman who answered the door yesterday said she did not know anything about the path.

Forest Park Drive resident Nancy Chiacchio went to City Hall and discovered the current plans for the neighborhood do not include an easement. Chiacchio asked Ward 1 City Councilor Robert Kelly for help in resolving the situation.

Kelly acted as the neighborhood's liaison to City Hall.

Last November, after nearly two years with no solution, Sammartano offered to donate land for the path.

"They're good kids, they never did any harm," Sammartano said. "I wanted to do it for the good of the city and the kids and the people in the area."

Keyes Associates, a local architectural firm, offered to design a brick pathway at no charge to the city. When completed this fall, the path will be paved with brick and will be handicapped accessible.

Kelly said he plans to ask the City Council to erect a plaque thanking Sammartano for the donation.

"It's really a generous thing he and his family did," Kelly said.

Coincidentally, Amelia Drive was scheduled for some water main work this summer. So, as the construction crews ripped up the end of the street in August, they also cleared the path.

As Joanne Previte, an Amelia Drive resident, stood on her front stoop and looked over at the dirt path at the end of her street, she smiled.

"Kids who live up here want to walk to school. I think the kids need it, they don't hurt anything and it's safer than walking on Forest Street," said Previte, whose four children used the makeshift path before they graduated from WHS.

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Article and photo republished
by permission of
the Waltham News-Tribune.
Page last modified 24 January 2004