The Northampton-to-Hatfield trip is going to get easier to travel, and more beautiful and scenic.
Back in July, the Springfield Republican reported that the Northampton City Council was voting on a land deal which would result in Northampton owning the development rights to a parcel of land along the Connecticut River running from Northampton to Hatfield.
The city would buy the half interest presently owned by the Valley Land Fund, a non-profit land preservation organization. Another private owner has the other half interest. Some of the land runs parallel to the railroad tracks that cross Damon Road and continue into Hatfield. Feiden envisions a new rail trail that would run parallel to Damon Road in Northampton and connect with the Hatfield parcels. Bicyclists would be able to pedal into Hatfield, where there is a wealth of country roads suitable for biking.[emphasis added]
Today’s Daily Hampshire Gazette reports that Hatfield’s Town Administrator, Jeffrey Ritter said “[t]he issue is moving.’
I’ve written many times about how much I love riding in Hatfield. The roads are quiet, the scenery is fantastic. Truly, the hardest part about riding in Hatfield is getting there. From Northampton, you have to ride up Rte. 5/10, which has a wide shoulder, but very fast-moving traffic, then navigate across a couple of highway on/off ramps. Not the most pleasant of beginnings to a ride.
“We envision three uses,” said [Dennis] Bidwell [founder of Northampton Youth & Community Rowing, Inc.], “collegiate rowing, high school rowing, and community rowing.” Bidwell added that the city’s recreation department has expressed interest in running a canoe and kayak program as well.
The July Northampton Media story quotes Northampton City Planner, Wayne Feiden, as saying, “It could be a 10-to-20-year process.” This story also includes some graphics and maps of the area, and gives the most detail of what is being considered. You should click on over and check it out.
I hope things progress more quickly than that, and seeing that Hatfield is involved in making this happen seems promising. The idea of incorporating more than one recreation usage in this parcel is quite exciting.
The Connecticut River is beautiful here, and we should enjoy it and take care of it. I can imagine that this connection between the two towns would be quite the attraction, much like the Norwottuck rail trail bridge over the Connecticut.
This is definitely a development worth supporting and encouraging.