Rail Trail e-Newsletter July 2022 #68

More exciting news in this issue. First up items about the MCRT. . . Believe it or not, Waltham is now under construction and a key part of the corridor in Belchertown was recently saved by MassDOT. And not an obscure piece. The last piece before a key, missing bridge.

And our big conference, GS2022 is right around the corner at the end of the month. Better sign-up soon. You're gonna love it. We're developing a great conference packet too.

Also our Request for Proposals (RFP), to do a report about what a completed MCRT is going to mean to the state and the communities along the way, has gathered interest and proposals from four notable firms. We are interviewing them this week. Stay tuned on that.

And a few other interesting stories below too. News of 81 trail projects getting funded and a new player starting to assist the TrailsTeam in the buildout. Also below are a couple of stories from the Congress of New Urbanism about building houses next to rail trails. That is right up my alley and in the sweet spot of my niche real estate practice. So nice to see such visionary orgs like CNU discovering this too.

Also, though I've done over 1,200 lectures in 21 states, until last month, I've never done a podcast. That now lives on this platform too. Doing the SoftServe podcast was so much fun. Enjoy.

Craig Della Penna, Exec. Director
Norwottuck Network
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
Waltham is beginning construction their section of the MCRT. Yes, really!! After 25+ years it is finally underway. Who was it who said, it would never be done?

Well tell them that
they were wrong!!
WALTHAM, MA — Construction of the Waltham Wayside Trail has started as of Tuesday, said Planning Director Catherine Cagle in a statement. Read more.
And in Belchertown, MassDOT preserves an imporant section of MCRT right-of-way from being damaged and cut-off.
You are thinking, big deal. Isn't preserving corridor a given? No. Not really. But we are now in new territory.

You are likely aware that MassDOT recently finished comprehensive feasibility report that showed the Mass Central Rail Trail as being able to be reassembled. LINK HERE to that study.

But in late June 2022, for the very first time, we are seeing evidence that DOT is actually committed actually to preserving the corridor, even in places where historically the corridor has been the most at risk. Places like Belchertown. See the infographic.
A nice story about
Friends of Northampton Trails
Friends of Northampton Trails continues support of environmental assets
 July 5, 2022 | Ryan Feyre
NORTHAMPTON – As climate change and global warming continue to impact ecosystems and our physical environment, the Friends of Northampton Trails (FNT) are doing everything they can to preserve the city’s environmental assets and promote bicycle riding wherever possible. Read more btw, several FNT board members will be at GS2022 at the end of the month. CDP
And here's a 12 page booklet being developed to be a part of the
Golden Spike 2022 Conference
It will be a part of an extensive handout package at the conference. Click here.

We are shutting down registrations on July 25.
You still have time to book-in. DO IT NOW!!
Saturday July 30, 2022
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.
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.
Walham: 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. 
Hudson: Link here for the NE-SW intersecting trail--Assabet River 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 area: 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.
MASS-TRAILS Grant Awards Event were held in Milton on Tuesday, June 28, 2022
MassTrails Grant Program Announces Funding for 81 Trail Projects Across the Common-wealth Streets Blog By Christian MilNeil 6/29/22

The commonwealth’s interagency MassTrails grant program has committed $11.4 million in funding to support the design, construction, or maintenance of 81 different trails projects across the state this year.

This year’s funding includes a $1.3 million private donation from the Conine Family Foundation, which is funding three projects to fill in greenway gaps in the Boston region. Read more.

Conine Family Foundation founders Alexi and Steve Conine are seen above with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito at the Trails Team event.

Both Alexi and Steve Conine are passionate cyclists committed to acting as a catalyst to create a world-class active trail network in the greater Boston area. They aim to connect communities, people, and places through their foundation’s HubLuv Initiative. They have funded various projects to further this goal and take actions to help institutional-ize the MassTrails program. 
$32K Feasibility study for rail trail project in Athol is now funded through the MassTrails program
By GREG VINE Athol Daily News 7/8/2022 ATHOL — Director of Planning and Development Eric Smith recently received notification from the Baker-Polito administration that the town of Athol has landed a 2022 MassTrails Grant of nearly $32,000 to study the feasibility of developing a bike/pedestrian trail along the route of the long-defunct Rabbit Run RR.
Bourne Rail Trail project gets $499,000 grant to expand Cape Cod bike paths Paul Gately Special to Cape Cod Times
BOURNE –The Bourne Rail Trail project recently received a $499,000 state grant that will help finance design and engineering work for phases 1 and 4 of the project, a proposed 6.5-mile path connecting the Shining Sea Bikeway in North Falmouth to the Cape Cod Canal Bikeway. Read more.
Each year, these MassTrails grants are leading to more and more trails.
Wouldn't it be nice to see just where the grants are making a difference--on the ground. Not only on the Mass Central Rail Trail but on all the trails across the state. Tom Kelleher at TKMaps has created a new map that shows each of the funded project for the past four years of grant rounds. When you click on each icon, it brings you to a snippet of text about each project. Thanks Tom! Great idea. As always. Click here. Use the drop-down box in the upper left corner.Link

New Twin Cities Rail Trail Offers Adventure In Leominster, Fitchburg
LEOMINSTER, MA — The newest rail trail in Massachusetts officially opened in late June, offering a fresh 4-1/2 mile pathway to explore on foot, bike, scooter or wheelchair.

Planning for the trail stretches back to 2004, but the effort took off in 2017 when the two cities bought the former railway in 2017. The paved pathway officially opened on June 22 — although it was useable before then — and includes a new bridge crossing Route 2. Read more
Native flowers, shrubs, and trees now decorate the unique pathway of the Assabet River Rail Trail
By Grace Gilson Globe Correspondent,Updated July 7

Thanks to a local resident, David Mark, who began a project to beautify the trail back in 2018.

Mark has been an avid member of the Assabet River Rail Trail Inc., a nonprofit that has aided in the development of the route, since early in its history. Once the Maynard portion was completed, he was left thinking of new ways to continue his passion for gardening and developing the outdoor resource. Read more.
Bikeway Ambassadors to lead guided rides this summer WHITINSVILLE, Mass. – Join Blackstone Heritage Corridor’s volunteer Bikeway Ambassadors on guided bike rides this summer to explore different sections of the Blackstone River Bikeway. Bring your own bike, helmet, and water. Rides depart at 6:30 p.m. and return by 8 p.m. Read more
New Paths in Peabody Will Fill Missing Links on Border-to-Boston Trail Streets Blog, By Grecia White 6-27

Last week, MassDOT and the City of Peabody presented their proposed plans to extend the town’s Independence Greenway from Lahey Medical Center across Route 128 to Endicott Street, a project that will bring the shared-use path to the edge of Peabody’s downtown area. Read more.
Interesting, "High-Altitude" Stories From Around the Country and Sometimes Beyond.
CHECK THIS OUT. Two Recent Stories In A Blog By The Congress Of New Urbanism—CNU. Stories About How Great it would to be to have whole neighborhoods of houses next to Rail Trails. (Hmmm. That sounds familiar. Sounds a lot like I’ve been doing in my niche real estate practice for almost 20 years. Sounds completely opposite to what all those antis said to me in all the rail trail wars I've been involved-in. CDP)
Missing middle where the trains used to run
The US has a wealth of abandoned rail lines—tens of thousands of miles running every which way across America. Many sections have been converted to walking and bicycling trails. Less often, planners use these corridors as an amenity that attracts compact housing or mixed-use development. Read more.
Abandoned Railways and Urbanism
. . . Less attention has been paid to other opportunities, such as urban development along abandoned railways. As indicated in the map above, the scale of this network is astonishing. There must be tens of thousands of miles of abandoned railways shown on the crowdsourced map by transit enthusiast Andrew Grigg. Read more(Within 150 miles of where I am lies the densest network of dead steam RR corridor in North America. Here you'll find village center locales with thousands of houses near the corridors where kids can bike to school etc. CDP)

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.
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.
I was recently invited
to be on a Podcast. click below. Caution! 1.5 hours
Amazingly, Constant Contact alerted us that this newsletter is in the top 10% of all of Constant Contact's newsletters, worldwide, in terms of readership engagement.
Imagine that!