Bike Path Spur Dispute Resolved

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton as seen from the rail trail.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton as seen from the rail trail. 2011

One of the goals of the Open Space Recreation, & Multi-Use plan in Northampton, MA, has been to create little rail trail spurs throughout the city so that more residents have easy access to existing Manhan Rail Trail and Mass Central Trail.

Some of the trail links are welcomed by their neighbors. One link was vehemently opposed.

The spur from the section along King Street in downtown out to the road was the subject of a dispute from the property owner and the City of Northampton. The City wanted the Catholic Church which was doing renovations to its church parking lot to include a spur from the trail which was behind the church, to King Street, which was in front of the church’s lot. The church objected to the City Planing Board’s requirement that the spur be built as a condition for the building permit for the rest of the work, and sued the City. [You can read more about the background in my previous post, Letter to the Editor – St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton.]

While it seemed the Church didn’t want the City to tell it what to do with its land, they also didn’t want people crossing the property for fear of disruptions to their religious services.

I saw this situation a little differently.

In letter to the local paper, The Daily Hampshire Gazette, I wrote:

Being a spiritual person and a cyclist, Lynn Shelley’s letter published May 27, and the Springfield Diocese’s decision to sue the Northampton Planning Board, saddens me. I think the church’s proximity to the rail trail is a huge asset. Connecting to it could enhance the church community in so many ways. Continue reading

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New Northampton Rail Trail Spurs

[This is a post I put together some time ago but failed to actually publish.]

Those Norwottuck Rail Trail sections in Northampton, MA are really coming togehter!

Via Nick Horton of Friends of  Northampton Trails and Greenways and the MassBike Pioneer Valley Chapter, comes news from Northampton Director of Planning and Development Wayne Feiden of new rail trail spurs connecting more city neighborhoods to the main trail.

I am happy to announce two closings on the Manhan/Hospital Hill Rail Spur, the final closing being today.

1.  Courtesy of Smith College (thank you very much Smith for this extremely generous donation) we closed today on a right-of-way for the multi-use trail from West Street up to the top of Hospital Hill, adjacent to the Smith College sledding hill.
2.  Courtesy of  Mass Development (thank you very much Mass Development) we closed a week or so ago on a right-of-way from the trail from the top of Hospital Hill to Olander Drive.
Thank yous are especially due to the two City Councilors whose ward these trails run though, Councilor Pamela Schwartz and Councilor Paul Spector.

Enjoy the riding.

 –
Wayne Feiden, FAICP
Director of Planning and Development
City of Northampton

These rail trail spurs are mentioned in the city’s Open Space Recreation & Multi-Use plan (beginning at p. 161), and connect some of the newest city neighborhoods. Let’s hope the residents and businesses there get out and ride them!

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Bike Breakfast Northampton 2013

image

No rain (or snow)!

Bike Breakfast in Northampton means  catching up with old friends. I’ve been walking much more than I’ve been riding this Spring, so I mostly see my biking friends as they zip past me. At Bike Breakfast, I got to catch up with some friends and be reminded how much I love biking.

Continue reading

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Springing Back To Action

OK, Western Massachusetts. We’ve made it through the winter. The sun feels noticeably warmer and snow is clearing from the roadways. Time to get those bikes turned up and ready for riding.

It’s also time to find out new developments and plans for cycling infrastructure in the Pioneer Valley and across Massachusetts.

Mass Bike Pioneer Valley Chapter is hosting its annual General Meeting on Tuesday, March 12 at 7:30 pm. The meeting will take place at Northampton Friends Meeting social room
in the former Elks Building
43 Center St., 2nd floor
Northampton.

If you want to know first hand what’s going on, this is the place to be!

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A Little Help Up The Stairs

Getting up to the rail trail bridge is easy!

A few weeks ago, I was downtown in Northampton with my bike. On my way home, I decided to take a detour from my usual roundabout route home, and go more directly. This meant not going away from the main intersection of Pleasant/King Streets and Main/Bridge Streets to the rail trail entrance down by the parking lot at Union Station restaurant. Instead,  I went to the rail trail bridge over Main Street.

The reason I usually avoid going this way is that there is a flight of steps from the street up to the bridge, and I don’t want the hassle of carrying my bike up the stairs.

The whole way over to the stairs, I was lamenting to myself that there wasn’t a bike ramp on the stairway which would allow me to just roll my bike up the stairs. I was just resigned to carrying it.

But lo, and behold,

There’s the bike ramp I was hoping for!

So, now I know there *is* a ramp for bikes on the staircase up to the rail trail. Yay!

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Manhan Rail Trails Signs Coming

This empty post is getting decorated!


The Manhan Rail Trail (Mass Central Trail) in Northampton an Easthampton is getting something which has been a long time coming – beautiful and informational signage. 

An article in The Daily Hampshire Gazette (subscription) announced that the signs had been shipped from the manufacturer and are scheduled to be installed within the next two weeks.

Funding for the signs comes as a result of the work done by Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways. Well Done!

 

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Northampton Announces Public Hearing on Boathouse Project

Northampton, MA is holding a hearing on the waterfront park along the Connecticut River. The plan for the park is to build a rail trail extension to it, and on into Hatfield.

Wayne Feiden, Director of Planning and Development, has given notice of the hearing by the Planning Board:

The Planning Board will be holding a public hearing on a Site Plan request filed by the City for approval of the Connecticut River Greenway at the current Lane Construction property off Damon Road.  The hearing will be held at 8:00 PM on Thursday September 13, 2012.
[Wayne's message continues after the jump.]

Continue reading

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Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways Photo Contest

Know how you’re riding along the rail trail thinking how lovely it is, how perfect that moment it and how you wish you could keep it forever?  Took a photo, didn’t you?
So share it. Let the world see what you saw that day. Show your photo of biking along the rail trails and you could be part of an art show sponsored by Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways. There are prizes too!

The deadline has been extended to September 12, so if you don’t have a photo or video yet, there’s still time to capture some of that rail trail loveliness.

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Norwottuck Rail Trail Resurfacing Hearing Set

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know the section of the Norwottuck Rail Trail between Hadley, MA and Amherst, MA has been in dire need of resurfacing for years now. The original surface included broken glass to make it pretty. Unfortunately, that wasn’t so good for the bike tires as glass worked it’s way to the surface.

Well, the Mass Dept of Transportation is holding a public hearing on the project on September 5.

Notice of a Public Hearing

A Design Public Hearing will be held by MassDOT to discuss the proposed Norwottuck Rail Trail Bicycle and Pedestrian Path project in Amherst, Hadley and Northampton, MA.

WHERE: Hadley Elementary School Cafeteria
21 River Drive
Hadley, MA 01035
WHEN: Wednesday September 5, 2012
at 7:00 P.M.
Project#: 605065

See the proposal portion of the notice after the jump:

Continue reading

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BikeFest Returns for Fifth Year

Northampton Cycling Club‘s BikeFest, celebrating all things cycling in Western Massachusetts, returns for the 5th year, bigger and better.

BikeFest is on Saturday, September 22, at Look Park in Northampton, MA. Check out their new website, Bike Fest & Tour of the Valley. There are many rides, for all levels of riders, beginners to hard-core. First ride (the long 104 miler) starts at 7 am, 8 mile Family Ride pushes off at 11:30 am. Early Bird registration before September 12 gets you a good discount, so sign up now.

I rode the 25 miler last year with my son Quinn, and we had a fantastic time on the ride, at the rest stop at the orchard sponsored by the family which hosts Steph’s Wild Ride, and especially the food and visiting with other riders at the ending celebration. You can see my report and more photos in Bike Fest 2001 Wins the Day.

This year I’ll try to bring along more family members. Perhaps I’ll see you there?

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