Westfield Trail Funding in Danger

The Columbia Greenway section of the rail trail which connects Northampton, MA to New Haven, CT is said to be among the most beautiful, crossing the Westfield River and winding through reconstructed downtown Westfield. This section of the trail had been hailed as a key piece of the renovation to downtown Westfield, and enjoyed support from the Mayor and city council. 

Unfortunately, that seems to have changed.

Word came today via the MassBikePV listserv that the funding for continued development is in danger.:

We need support from trail advocates this week. Please come to City Hall Monday June 19 at 6 PM and/or Weds June 21 to support completion of our Rail Trail. Not a resident? Let the city know you visit to use the trail. 

HELP!  The City Council at the budget hearing last night was very plain in their intent to cut funding for the Columbia Greenway design effort.  Very specifically voting against the Columbia Greenway.  The next forum to discuss this is Monday, 6/19, at 6:00 PM Rm 315 followed on Wednesday, 6/21, with a Public Hearing at 6PM.  Only strong, intense demonstration of support will change their direction.


The Engineering Department Construction budget reflects $250,000 to advance the design this year toward advertising the project in FFY19.  $6.25MM is programed for construction at that time and will be lost if progress is not made.  These funds were the final endowment of the previous administration with its acute commitment to Westfield, they will not be seen again.  Those funds will finish the Columbia Greenway. 


Please reach out to anyone and everyone whom could show up, call councilors (list and contact numbers are on City website http://www.cityofwestfield.org/122/City-Council ), advertise in the paper or digitally via whatever forum.  Thank you.


Don Podolski

New Horizons Bikes

So if you’re able, let the Westfield City Council know how important this rail trail is, and ask the to continue their support for its development. 

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Bay State Bike Week 2016

What do the towns and cities of Northampton, Amherst, South Hadley, Springfield, West Springfield, Agawam and Westfield have in common this week with towns across Massachusetts? Why, it’s Bay State Bike and you can find multiple events in these towns celebrating cycling.


This week there are bike breakfasts, rides for advanced and beginning riders, bike safety checks, instructional rides for urban cycling, and tours of existing and soon to be built dedicated paths. There are even some dedicated theme rides, like the Tweed Ride I participated in last weekend.

You can find all of the registered Bike Week events at the Bay State Bike Week website. There are 10 pages of events listed!

Now let’s just keep our fingers crossed that the weather cooperates and lots of people come out to help celebrate the wonderful biking we have available to us in Western Massachusetts.

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Tweed Ride Comes to Northampton

Why should sci-fi and fantasy fans get all the costume play fun? Cycling’s hey days have some pretty nifty clothing styles, too.


My Columbia Sport III's ready to stroll.

Nothing could be finer than pedaling along in your tweeds. Unless of course you’re riding along in the company of other tweed-clad riders.

So tune up your three-speed bike because there’s a Tweed Ride happening in Western Massachusetts, and you don’t want to miss it. This email from Nicholas Horton has the details:

This years’ Tweed Ride to benefit The Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways will be held on Saturday, May 14th, 2016!

Continue reading

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Norwottuck Rail Trail Work

A heads up on some work on the trail trail in the Leeds section of Northampton. From a masslive.com reporter on Twitter:

@LauraMNewberry: Northampton DPW: Road work scheduled for North Elm, Prospect, Finn Streets; Leeds Rail Trail closed until winter http://s.masslive.com/O3agrZY

Trees will be cleared near the Leeds portion of the MassCentral Rail Trail starting at Grove Avenue and stretching a half-mile toward Williamsburg. The 0.1-mile section of trail from Grove Avenue to Florence Street will be closed until winter while improvements are made, the city said.

It’s a small stretch of the trail, but plan accordingly.

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Beer, Food, Bikes

The Pioneer Valley chapter of MassBike knows how to put together a meeting for cyclists – have beer and food.

Alden Booth, chapter president announced a meeting at The People’s Pint in Greenfield, MA tonight:

Greenfield, MA — This Wednesday, June 17 @ 7 pm, The People’s Pint is hosting an informational session about and with our statewide bicycle advocacy organization, MassBike. Come drink $3 pints of Training Wheels Session IPA, meet the MassBike/Pioneer Valley board, members and executive director, eat free appetizers and get lots of information about why it makes sense to become a member of MassBike.

But mostly enjoy hanging out with fellow cyclists for an evening.

However, if you do choose to become a member you will be given a bottle of Training Wheels to take home with you (and membership is a real deal anyway)!

The owners of the People’s Pint are cyclists and very supportive of the cycling community in  Western Massachusetts.  Even if you can’t make the meeting, make a stop at the People’s Pint post of your next ride through Greenfield and thank them for their support.

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West Springfield Public Hearing Scheduled

The town of West Springfield has posted a notice of hearing on their plans to develop a trail along the Connecticut River. The kidsConnecticut Riverwalk and Bikeway trail would be for biking and walking.

Hearing details:

A Public Informational Meeting will be held by MassDOT to discuss the proposed Connecticut Riverwalk and Bikeway project in West Springfield, MA.


West Springfield Town Hall Auditorium

26 Central Street

West Springfield, MA 01089


Tuesday, June 16 @ 6:30 PM


The purpose of this meeting is to provide the public with the opportunity to become fully

acquainted with the proposed Connecticut Riverwalk and Bikeway project. All views and comments made at the meeting will be reviewed and considered to the maximum extent possible.

If you’re a resident of West Springfield and want this trail developed, get to the hearing and make your support known.

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Norwottuck Rail Trail Repairs Completed


Come ride the Norwottuck Rail Trail

There’s nothing like riding freshly  prepared rail trail through beautiful scenery.

That’s exactly what bike riders heading east out of Northampton through Hadley and Amherst can look forward to doing on the newly repaired Norwottuck Rail Trail in Western Massachusetts.

The Norwottuck is part of the ever expanding Massachusetts Central Rail Trail, which currently runs from the Connecticut border to Belchertown (construction in Westfield moves forward, while Southampton had yet to begin).

The Springfield Republican newspaper reported this week:

After nearly two years of work, the 8.5-mile stretch of the Norwottuck Rail Trail from Damon Road in Northampton to Station Road in Amherst is repaired and fully open.


The bike ride along the Norwottuck Rail Trail takes you on the repurposed railroad bridge high across the Connecticut River, through beautiful farmland and spectacular views of the Holyoke Range in Hadley,


then finally through quiet forest and college campuses in Amherst. 11. 5 miles of smooth, spirit restoring riding.

Come on out and enjoy this Pioneer Valley cycling treasure.

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Spring MassBike Pioneer Valley Meeting


Norwottuck Rail Rail, Hadley, MA

Hey, Spring is here. Get out and meet your fellow cyclists, get inspired about riding in the Pioneer Valley, and become part of making cycling in Western Massachusetts even better.

Get yourself to Pizza Paradiso in Northampton on April 15 at 7 p.m. for the MassBike Pioneer Valley meeting.

Here’s the announcement:

Greetings fellow cyclists!

The weather has taken a change for the better, almost all of the snow has disappeared from the ground, and temps are slowing climbing up. All of this can mean only one thing: cycling season is almost upon us!

Come celebrate the changing of the season with other like minded folk at the next MassBike Pioneer Valley chapter meeting.

Where: Pizzeria Paradiso, 12 Crafts Ave, Northampton, in the reserved basement room (sort of like the bat cave, but even more secret – ask hostess)
When: Wednesday, April 15th from 7:00 pm – ????
Who: Cyclists of all persuasions
Why: Why not?

In addition to rubbing elbows with clever company, you’ll be able to hear about what the chapter is up to as well as be in attendance for a VERY special announcement! Food and drink will be available to order from our hosts but will not be including with the price of admission (which is $0!)

Be there or be a recumbent rider! (Totally kidding, no offense to our low riding brethren!)

Sean Condon
MassBike PV President
Sean smcondon11@gmail.com

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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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