Rail Trail e-Newsletter September 2023 #81

Hello all,

We are now under a month to GOLDEN SPIKE 2023. The really big news this month is the choice of Paul Jahnige to lead the Mass Office of Outdoor Recreation (MOOR). Paul will be at the GS2023 Conference and leading Tour 5 (LINK HERE to learn about the tour.)

He will also be speaking for a few minutes about his plans for MOOR. I'll be updating the agenda for GS2023 this week to insert Paul into it.

And we have quite a few ribbon-cuttings this month--including the long awaited completion of the Westfield Columbia Greenway in downtown Westfield.

This is a part of longest interstate trail in New England--the New Haven & Northampton Canal Greenway.

A couple of great stories about Sudbury on the MCRT and the BFRT.

And in the orange section--the high altitude area--are a few stories about parking in bike-ped friendly downtowns. Or more specifically, loss of car parking in those downtown areas. One of those downtowns is here in Northampton.

One of those stories is by a friend of mine Andy Morris-Friedman who specializes in tongue-in-cheek sarcasm.


Craig Della Penna, Board President

Norwottuck Network, Inc.

62 Chestnut St. Northampton, MA 01062

413 575 2277 CraigDP413@gmail.com

In the GREEN area, we have news about the
Mass Central Rail Trail
and or its connecting paths

The really big news this month is the choice of Paul Jahnige to lead the Mass Office of Outdoor Recreation (MOOR). Paul will be at the GS2023 Conference and leading Tour 5 (LINK HERE to learn about the tour.) He will also be speaking for a few minutes about his plans for MOOR.


Massachusetts Office of Outdoor Recreation (MOOR)

WAMC an NPR station out of Albany NY area picks up the story and interviews Paul Jahnige about this new Office of Outdoor Recreation

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN to the 7 minute interview

Healey-Driscoll Administration Names Director of Massachusetts Office of Outdoor Recreation

BOSTON —9-12-23 Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rebecca Tepper today announced the appointment of Paul Jahnige as the first Director of the Massachusetts Office of Outdoor Recreation (MOOR). The EEA established the Office in December 2022 to elevate and enhance outdoor recreational opportunities throughout Massachusetts and the associated benefits to our economy, health, environment, and quality of life. Read more.

From building trails to opening doors: Williamsburg’s Paul Jahnige named state’s outdoor recreation chief. 

A Williamsburg native with many years of experience as trails program director for the state Department of Conservation and Recreation has been tapped to head the state’s new Office of Outdoor Recreation. “I’m really excited about the opportunity to develop and grow this office, and to promote Massachusetts as a place to come and play,” he said after his appointment was announced. Read more.

(Paul is great choice to lead this office. I look forward to assisting in anyway needed. CDP)

This month, a couple of more

ribbon cuttings on the MCRT

MCRT Kiosk Dedicated at Gibbs Crossing, Ware by Paula Ouimette, Editor Ware River News 9-8-23

Many years of hard work, dedication and volunteer efforts culminated in an official

“grand opening” of the town’s segment of the Mass Central Rail Trail at Gibbs Crossing on Friday. On Sept 8. Read more.

Another section-- 5/8 mile opening on 9-26 in Gilbertville. Come on out! Here's a MAP of the new MCRT section.

A recent construction project resulting in the closure of short section of the MCRT's Norwottuck Branch seems to have been done without a lot of outreach about the closure.

The Mass Central Rail Trail's Norwottuck branch is the only ADA-accessible route across the Town of Hadley, and hundreds of people use it on a daily basis. Mass StreetsBlog 9-15-2023

A critical segment on one of the busiest regional trails in western Massachusetts, the Norwottuck Rail Trail between Northampton and Amherst, will be closed to traffic for a month this fall because of a nearby road widening project. Read more.

Hadley Rail Trail work shuts popular commute route for cyclists By Scott Merzbach, Daily Hampshire Gazette 9-8-2023 HADLEY — Daily commutes from Amherst to Northampton on the MCRT's Norwottuck Branch have become a bit more difficult this week for bicyclists like Michael Ireland of Amherst, who initially found the closure of a section of the path behind the Mountain Farms Mall and through a tunnel below Route 9 problematic. Read more.



The Mass Central Rail Trail AND The Bruce Freeman Rail Trail. They are both moving forward now and believe me,

 it was a helluva journey.


Here's a photo essay about the Bruce Freeman and the Mass Central Rail Trails in Sudbury by Len Simon. He's a former Selectman in town and a big booster of the trails. And quite a good photographer as well. See the whole presentation.

(The story to the right by Kevin LaHaise SUDBURY WEEKLY is important. Especially for younger folks who can't believe that people were (or still are) opposed to these projects. CDP)

Make Way For Rail Trails 

By Kevin LaHaise of Sudbury Weekly 9-8-23

Last week the Rail Trails Advisory Committee (RTAC) did a walking/driving tour on the Mass Central Rail Trail (MCRT). The tour, though largely an informational endeavor, is part of an ongoing evolution in the town's approach to the project. Click here to read the entire recap. (You'll be scrolling down a bit as it isn't the top story.)

SAVE THE DATE and REGISTER now!! Our 9th GOLDEN SPIKE CONFERENCE will be held on Saturday 10-14-23 at the AMVETs facility at 79 Superior Dr. Natick. The location is right between the Cochituate Rail Trail and Cochituate Lake State Park. Website is now live at: GS2023.org Full info including speakers, tours, history of our Golden Spike awards and how to register is on the site.
Communities on the 
 on the MCRT and their websites

Did you know that many communities (or groups like land trusts) on the MCRT alignment are working on their section of the trail? 

Here's a link to a two-page infographic about the history of the MCRT
Here's a link to the report that answers the main question. "What would a completed MCRT mean to the Commonwealth and the communities along the way."

Here are links to websites where you can learn who the contact person is, when these groups meet, when hearings are being planned and how to sign up to get notices sent directly to you.
Belmont: Link here to the town appointed committee. 
Belmont: Link here to the Belmont Citizens Forum.
Belmont: Link here to the Friends of the Community Path Facebook group.
Somerville: Link here to the Friends of the Community Path Facebook group. 
Waltham: Link here to the Waltham Land Trust's site.
Waltham: Link here to the Waltham Bike Committee.
Waltham: Link here to the City's page about the MCRT.
Weston: Link here to the town's page about the MCRT
Weston: Link here to the history of both the RR and the advocacy to create the trail. Over 25 years of advocacy. It is now open.
Wayland: Link here
Sudbury: Link here for the N-S intersecting trail--Bruce Freeman Rail Trail. 
Berlin-Hudson: Link here to the new FaceBook group.
Berlin: Link here goes to the town's Rail Trail Committee. They also have a pretty nice website with pictures of the existing dead RR corridor along other maps and images of a future trail. Link here.
Wayside segment of the MCRT: Link here to a regularly updated history of DCR's efforts on building out this complicated trail.
Clinton Greenway Conservation Trust: Link here. updated info.
Clinton Tunnel: Link here to a story on WBZ Boston TV about the tunnel.
Wachusett Greenways: Link here.
Wachusett Greenways Facebook page with a link to their E-newsletter: Link here.
East Quabbin Land Trust: Link here
Palmer coming soon 
Ware: Link here to the Facebook group about this segment of the MCRT'. 
Belchertown: Link for the site for Friends of the Belchertown Greenway.
Amherst, Hadley on DCR's Norwottuck section of the MCRT: Link here.
Northampton area: Link here to the Friends of Northampton Trails website.
Northampton area: Link here to the Friends of Northampton Trails Facebook.
Here's DOT's Recent Feasibility study about how to piece together the middle sections of the MCRT.

Westfield marks completion of the 25-year effort for Columbia Greenway Rail Trail  9-08-2023 By Amy Porter | The Westfield News | WESTFIELD — The Friends of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail, state and city officials gathered in the blazing heat on Thursday afternoon to formally open the central downtown section of the rail trail, com-pleting a process that began 25 years ago. Read more.

News from the NW corner of Mass and the SW corner of VT

Upgrade underway on Bennington, VT Pathway

By Jim Therrien, Banner correspondent Sep 15, 2023

BENNINGTON — Town crews have begun work on a $240,000 upgrade and extension project along sections of the Walloomsac Pathway in the downtown. Read more

Ribbon Cut on Williamstown's Mohican Trail By Stephen Dravis iBerkshires Staff 9-2023

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — At the ribbon cutting for the new Mohican Trail on Thursday morning, the president of the Berkshire Bike Path Council remembered a time when not everyone believed such paths could be built. Read more.

Two stories about Natick and the Cochituate Rail Trail (right where we are holding the GS2023 conference on 10-14-23.) Register now while you are thinking about it.

Natick's 1st Accessible Cycling Event Comes To Cochituate Rail Trail Montana Samuels, Patch Staff Monday 9-18-23 NATICK, MA —

Natick is partnering with All Out Adventures to bring an accessible cycling experience to the Cochituate Rail Trail on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Read more

Studios Without Walls: art exhibit featured along the Cochituate Rail Trail (9/9 - 10/15/23)

Studios Without Walls, an artists' collaborative, will bring twelve sculptures to the Cochituate Rail Trail in Natick from September 9 to October 15, 2023. Read more.

State Advisory Council endorses the Merrymeeting Trail!

On August 23 — following nine months of regular meetings, discussions, fact-finding, and analysis — the Rail Corridor Use Advisory Council convened by MaineDOT and charged with making a recom-mendation around future use of the Lower Road rail corridor voted to recommend the creation of a trail along the corridor!

The vote was 11-3 in support of an interim use of the rail corridor between Brunswick and Gardiner as the Merrymeeting Trail, connecting to the Kennebec River Rail Trail to Augusta. Read more

Woonasquatucket River Green-way a Slice of Nature in an Urban Setting JOHNSTON, R.I. — Winding more than 7 miles from Johnston to Providence, the Woonasquatucket River Greenway is a linear slice of tranquility that has transformed what was once a dumping ground for trash into a scenic, vital urban bicycle path.

Read more.

Interesting, "HIGH ALTITUDE" Stories From Around the Country and Sometimes Beyond.

This Spanish city has been restricting cars for 24 years. Here’s what we can learn from it

Pontevedra, Spain, offers some of the best evidence available about what happens when a city is reconfigured to accommodate people, rather than cars. By David Zipper, Fast Company. Read more

Here's the website for the planned remake of downtown Northampton that is the subject of Andy's tongue- in-cheek essay to the right.

I have been reading with both shock and horror (mostly horror) about the new so-called redesign of Main Street Northampton. The truth is that they’re turning the Musante Mile into a major mess. I live in Hadley and perhaps it’s not my place to comment on what the neighboring nabobs of Noho have in their noggins. It’s not like anyone from there ever complained about our Route 9. But what the heck. In my opinion they need to make downtown more car accepting, not less. Most Americans drive cars, we are the majority, we rule. Yet pedestrians get to cross our streets, but we can’t drive on their sidewalks. That’s reverse discrimination!. Read more

Newburyport, MA took hundreds of prime waterfront parking spots to expand a park, prompting a major controversy.

NEWBURYPORT — Andy Port was walking along the waterfront on a recent afternoon, just next to the construction site in Market Landing Park that is the center of a major controversy brewing in this city, when he found himself cornered by four exasperated residents. READ MORE


The new Norwottuck Network is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation specifically set up to help get the longest rail trail in New England--the Mass Central Rail Trail --built-out, operational and notable.

We can help do that by making small, mini-grants available to local groups and communities that will bring restore/renovate/replace historic mile-markers on the corridor. Or help fund kiosks that will call out forgotten railroad or industrial history of that locale.

Or if and when we need to, (or are asked to) we will commission major reports to answer the "elephant in the room" questions, never asked.

We will want to work with the state park agency Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) on standardized kiosk designs.

We will keep you all posted as to developments as we go. We have made it easy to DONATE through the Network for Good.

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