Rail Trail Newsletter 5-28-2019 #35

Welcome to a taste of summer. In this issue, I have two notable pieces. One is about the Norwottuck Network. This is a 501C3 not for profit organization set up around the turn of the new century to do trail improvements in the Pioneer Valley. It is about get a bit bigger--and more focused on the Mass Central Rail Trail in its entirety.

The other main story has multiple pieces. It includes a downloadable booklet about the Shining Sea Trail in Falmouth, a video interview with Dick Kendall--former State Rep and later Commissioner of Dept of Environmental Management [now called DCR]. Dick was the one most responsible for the creation of two laws that ostensibly protect former RR corridor from bad things. You'll also find 3 documents/letters that highlight a problem in one of the laws. And finally there is a presentation that offers up solutions to the two laws that are not performing as intended.

That entire section is in RED and lives under this heading; bad things happening that you don't even know about.


Craig Della Penna
413 575 2277
Sugar Maple Trailside Inn
62 Chestnut Street
Northampton, MA 01062
In the News
How A Small, Little-Known River Once Powered An Economy And Shaped A Landscape
Patrons of a coffee shop in Florence, Massachusetts, along with their morning joe, get a dose of the sound of a small river that winds down from the hill towns of Hampshire County.
Michelle Marroquin of Easthampton was drawn to the spot at YUP Coffee Roasters. Read more here. [This is about the western most section of the MCRT--CDP]
Belmont Community Path segment of the MCRT
Public input will be an important aspect of the formal path design that begins this summer. The Friends group plans to schedule a public meeting in late June with the Community Path Project Committee (CPPC) regarding the status. Meanwhile, start dreaming about designs for the Belmont Community Path with this map showing the latest path route and graphics from the Feasibility Study. For more updates, please visit the Friends' FaceBook site. LINK HERE
A closer look at Waltham’s Wayside Rail Trail segment of the Mass Central Rail Trail
 The combination of Bay State Bike Week—which runs from May 11 to 19—and the city’s annual bicycle update meeting, poses a question for those who choose to spend their time on two wheels: when will Waltham’s segment of the MCRT be complete? Read more now.
The NEW Norwottuck Network
In the late 1990s, just before the Millennium, there was a national effort called Millennium Trails launched by the Clinton Administra-tion. Each state was to have their own Millennium Trail. A trail so compelling and took in many of the features of the given locale that it would be a model for that entire state.

In Massachusetts, there were two entries and the Norwottuck Network was the winning entry. The NN--along with all the winning entries in all the states were given a $10,000 gift from AMEX. Locally that was partially used to create the iconic mural by muralist, Nora Valdez, in downtown Easthampton on the Manhan Rail Trail. Over the years NN did some other grant-making, but focused on the Pioneer Valley area.

The current board recently contacted me and they were looking to re-energize the board and some of the board members wanted to transition to other things. I proposed to expand both the scope of the and mission.

The Norwottuck Network will become a micro-funder of trail projects along the entire MCRT corridor. We will be focusing on some locales that need a boost to get things moving. And NN will also become a micro-funder for projects that call out railroad or industrial history along the corridor.

Our first project will be to expand the board a bit. We have begun to do that as Tom Kelleher of Action has agreed to join as the Treasurer of our 501C3. I have agreed to come on as the Executive Director. Rob Kusner of Amherst will serve as President, and Andy Morris-Friedman will serve as Clerk.

We would like other folks to join. Folks from communities along the MCRT in Central and Eastern Mass. This will be a fun board to be on. No heavy lifting. We can meet on GotoMeeting.com. We'll have a once a year, in-person meeting. If you might be interested, or know someone who might be, please drop me an email at: CraigDP413@gmail.com . Please put Norwottuck Network in the subject line. To learn more about NN, please go to our embryonic website at: www.NNNetwork.net

Below is a photo from 2002 of the installation of the mural in downtown Easthampton.
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 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 to you directly.
Belmont: Link here  to the town appointed committee. 
Belmont: Link here  to the Belmont Citizens Forum.
Somerville: Friends of the Community Path's Facebook page is here
Waltham: Link here to the Waltham Land Trust's site. Link here to the Waltham Bike Committee. And link here to the City's page on the MCRT.
Weston: Link here .
Wayland: Link here
Sudbury: Link here for the N-S intersecting trail--Bruce Freeman Rail Trail. 
Hudson: Link here .  
Berlin: Link here goes to the town's Rail Trail Committee. Once on that page, you can sign up to get notices of meetings, agendas, minutes, etc. They also have a pretty nice website w pix of the future trail. Link here .
Clinton: Link here .
Wachusett Greenways area: Link here .
East Quabbin Land Trust service area: Link here
Palmer coming soon 
Ware: Check out the FaceBook page. Link here
Belchertown: Link for the nascent site for Friends of the Belchertown Greenway
Amherst, Hadley on DCR's Norwottuck section of the MCRT: Link here .
Northampton area: Link here .
Here's info about a couple of obscure laws in Mass. that ostensibly defend former railroad corridor. 161C and 40/54A
How these laws came to be.
Probably 10 years ago now, I had a lecture at the Transportation Center in Hyannis on Cape Cod and as a "Thank you for coming" gift, the organizers gave a copy of the Spritsail magazine article about how the Shining Sea Trail got built in Falmouth and Woods Hole 35+ years earlier. A forgotten history, for sure.

The story is a page-turner about how the trail got built--and how the town had to use Eminent Domain to get control of former railroad land that a local resident bought to block the trail near his house. The whole ordeal was so alarming that the local State Rep proposed, and got passed, two laws. One giving the state, the right of first refusal on the sale of former RR corridor. That is called 161C. And another law that forced local building commissioners to alert DOT as to a construction project next to a former RR corridor. That law is called 40/54A.

Both are pretty important today. Click on the image of the book to go to the story. In the past several years, I've discovered several instances where these laws were forgotten or ignored and bad things have happened. This winter I decided to track down former State Rep, Richard Kendall to see if he was up for an interview about the two laws he created in the 1970s.
An interview with former State Rep. Richard Kendall
Yes, he was up for the interview.
Three letters about Dedham
Click HERE to go to the results of the 40/54A hearing in 2010 about the town of Dedham’s plan to build a school next to a former railroad corridor. DOT gave permission for the school to be located here and the town gave assurances that the school wouldn’t prevent the future trail. It went downhill after the school was built.
Click HERE to go the to a letter from the Friends of the Dedham Heritage Rail Trail to town officials earlier this year, reminding them of the conditions of the 40/54A hearing nine years earlier.
Click HERE to go to a letter from the Friends of the Dedham Heritage Rail Trail to top state officials a few weeks ago about the town's continued reluctance to honor their commitment.
Here's some of the problems I've uncovered, but it is really only the tip of the iceberg. Especially problems in the 40/54A program.
Debate Discussion About Dedham Rail Trail Inaccurate
In a letter to the editor, Michael Cocchi, clarified statements made about the proposed Dedham Heritage Rail Trail. According to Cocchi, some of the statements made were inaccurate. Read more here .
East Boston Greenway update.
Over the winter, the Boston Society of Landscape Architects (BSLA) kicked off an East Boston Greenway Design Challenge. The BLSA asked landscape architects to share some designs plans and ideas with the BLSA and the community for both short-term and long-term solutions for the section of the East Boston Greenway at Gove Street.
ValleyBike Sees Plenty Of Growth Potential As It Gets Up To Speed
By  George O'Brien   
ValleyBike  had, by most accounts, an up-and-down first year, and we’re not talking about the hills its bikes make a little easier through electric pedal assist. But on the whole, 2018 was an encouraging success, with gradually increasing ridership across the network’s six municipalities, despite a slow and incomplete roll-out of the 50 stations and 500 bikes. Read more here .

KINGSTON, N Y Ulster County officials discussed recent progress made interconnecting old railroad beds into a modern rail-trail network for bicycle and pedestrian use, Thursday morning at the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce monthly breakfast. They were joined by the City of Kingston grants manager, Kristen Wilson, who oversees associated projects within the municipality . Read more here .
Vermont's Lamoille Valley Rail Trail Puts Small Businesses on the Path to Profitability 
By Ken Picard. Matt Niklaus has been wrenching on bicycles since he was a teenager racing BMX bikes in central PA. After college, he moved to Vermont and spent 12 years working as a plastics engineer at Husky Injection Molding Systems in Milton. Though he liked his employer, Niklaus missed his passion. So, in May 2016, he opened his own business. Read more here.
Interesting Stories From Around the Country -- and Sometimes Beyond
E-bikes are helping keep seniors young and, in some instances, even alleviating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Read more here.
How Chicago’s South Side Is Creating the ‘Un’ High Line
E nglewood , in Chicago’s South Side, is only a few miles south of downtown, but in many ways, an entire world away. The city’s glittering skyscrapers are not to be found here. Read more here.

E-bikes are gaining traction, though some say not so fast
By Jose Martinez. Globe.
Most days, Keren Hamel bikes to work, mixing streets and a bike path from Arlington to Waltham. Along the way, she straddles not only her old, steel Pinarello updated with an electric-assisting wheel, but also new questions of where bikes — and which bikes — belong where. Read more here .
Though I do know many of the people getting this missive, we are now over 10,000 people. And thus many of you probably have no clue about who I am or where I came from. Click the link above to go to a bio/CV .
Amazingly, Constant Contact alerted Tiffany Lyman-Olszewski, the editor here, that this newsletter is in the top 10% of all of Constant Contact's newsletters, worldwide, in terms of readership engagement.