Rail Trail E Newsletter October 2021 #60

Quite a few stories this month. A few have some themes that I’ve observed. The concept of Ying and Yang is seen in a couple of stories. And a couple of the stories are filed under a theme that I’ve personally experienced and observed first hand. That is called; the Three Stages of Truth.
Whenever a new fangled idea is proposed, the First Stage of Truth is observed. That new idea is laughed at. What a crazy idea. That’ll never happen.
The second stage is when the opposition starts. Hard edged, dead-ender, extremist opposition. In the rail trail world, I’ve seen lots of that over the years. In fact, the underlying reason I’ve set up this e-newsletter is to assist pro-trail groups in several places where the dead-enders where wearing-down my pro-trail friends. 
This E newsletter is always filled with stories that generally aren’t not seen in local newspapers and most of the places where 2nd Stagers were starting to prevail, they’ve now been defeated. 
In most places now, we are in the 3rd stage of truth. That is best described as it is accepted as being self-evident. In my real estate practice, I meet people each and every week who don’t believe that there were people actually opposed to converting a dead RR into a trail. They are shocked when I tell them some of the stories that’ll be in my upcoming memoir. 
In this E newsletter are three stories about the 2nd stagers. Two from Providence RI. And one is a fundraising letter from the group in Sudbury fighting the project to put a more robust, resilient grid, under the dead RR—soon to be the longest rail trail in New England.

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 its connecting paths
MCRT's Belmont Community Path section 25% Design hearing on Zoom-Nov 4, 2021
Design Consultant Presentation of Submitted 25% Design of Phase 1 of the Belmont Community Path
Hosted by the Belmont Com-munity Path Project Committee

LINK HERE to agenda.
You should plan on attending.

Here's a story about Steven Hawk in Ware and how much he loves his accessible STONEDUST trail there. This is the section of the MCRT that starts at Walmart in Ware. Click on the image to go to the entire story.
(And I remember way back when Mass Highway --now MassDOT--wouldn't allow stone dust to be used as a surface on a rail trail. That was when they were the only state out of 50 to have such a directive. They've come full circle since then and have now fully entered the 21st century. Whew! CDP)
Baker Admin Commits Funding for Proposed Mystic Greenway Bridge By Christian MilNeil, Streets Blog 10-22-21
Governor Baker joined the mayors of Somerville and Everett Friday afternoon to announce the state’s commitment to funding and building a new Mystic River bike and pedestrian bridge, which would be a major missing link in the regional greenways network.

“We are going to fund this project and make it happen,” said the Governor at a press conference on the shore of the Mystic River on Friday afternoon. Read more

See the video of Gov. Baker's remarks at this event.

Plogging for the planet: Swedish pastime combines jogging with collecting litter, waste
By KELSEY WENTLING For the Gazette

Recently, on a jog along the Mill River in Northampton, I ran by three bags of dog poop neatly lined up on a log and arranged in a rainbow sequence: green, blue, purple. The sight was almost beautiful, had it not been for the plastic and animal waste waiting to be ferried into one of Northampton’s most precious ecological resources just feet away. It bothered me— it really bothered me. Read more
Saturday July 30, 2022

About our keynote speaker at Golden Spike 2022
this coming summer
By Jeanette Der Bedrosian / Published Fall 2021 JOHNS HOPKINS MAGAZINE (An interview with Peter Harnik in the summer of 2021.)

In the mid-1960s, two nature lovers in Rochester, New York, concocted a bold, blood-pumping challenge. Inspired by John F. Kennedy's commitment to physical fitness, Waldo Nielsen and Ralph Colt vowed to hike 50 miles in a single day.

At first glance, their decision to make the trek along an abandoned railroad corridor confounds. But Nielsen and Colt, rather reasonably, wanted to avoid having to walk along speeding cars on busy roadways. They also knew a crucial fact about railroads—that in order to successfully get a train to start moving from a standstill, or to prevent a runaway train, rails are built with precise, gradual, and almost imperceptible inclines and descents.

For every 50 feet of track, the rail might shift just an inch in height. So even though the duo would still have to tramp over the remaining ballast and rotting ties, rails made the ideal trail for their expedition. They completed the task in just under 20 hours. Read more
A couple of stories below are from Sudbury where you'll find the Ying and the Yang of Rail Trail Development in Mass. Right at the intersection of two of the most important rail trails in the northeast. 
The infographic above is from the town's website about the BFRT in Sudbury nearing final design and construction is FINALLY on the horizon. Read more from the town's site.
And here's a story about this coming benchmark as seen in a local newspaper.
And above is a fundraiser letter from Protect Sudbury PS is fighting the plan to put a more robust and resilient electric grid in their locale--right UNDER their section of the MCRT.

They've already lost at the Mass Supreme Judicial Court. And now their backup plan is to get the Federal Surface Transportation Board to help prevent the underground powerline from getting built under the dead RR. Here's the SJC decision from earlier this year.
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 history of DCR's efforts on this.
Clinton Greenway Conservation Trust: Link here.
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.
We'll start with two stories from Providence, RI. One is a snippet of the history of the East Bay Bike-path and one is about the current to-do about a bike-lane---- both by the Boston Globe
A battle over bike paths pits environmentalism and infrastructure against public safety and traffic problems
Now wildly popular, the East Bay Bike Path faced plenty of opposition in the 1980s.
By Brian Amaral Boston Globe Staff October 15, 2021
PROVIDENCE — Critics are unsparing: The new bike infrastructure is deemed “absolutely idiotic.” Abutters and powerful interests are lining up to try to kill it. They worry it’s getting rammed through without enough input about safety and traffic concerns.

It is 1983, and the proposed East Bay Bike Path to eventually link India Point Park in Providence to Independence Park in Bristol is one of the most controversial projects in the state.

It’s an “absolute tragedy that in a world in utter despair we would spend this kind of money to put in an idiot bike path,” one opponent said in The Providence Journal. “We’ve got bridges falling in the water.” Read more
Memo to cranky Providence residents: Real cities have bike lanes
No, bike riders aren’t destroying the fabric of the city
By Dan McGowan Boston Globe Columnist October 21, 2021
You can’t even go to South Water Street in Providence anymore, at least not without wearing a bulletproof vest and duct taping your AirPods to your ears. Nothing screams thug like a skinny person in bicycle shorts.

Said absolutely no one ever.

Yet here we are with another round of complaints about how bike lines are destroying the fabric of the city, ruining small businesses, and terrorizing innocent walkers who just want to take selfies on the pedestrian bridge without getting run over by Mayor Jorge Elorza on his Huffy.
File this under. . .
FINALLY underway in Mass. A nearly 25 year long project to restore a pedestrian Truss bridge outside of Boston, nears completion. Read more. Thanks to dogged citizen advocates and muni-supporters who nevah, evah gave up. (said with a Boston accent-- CDP) And all you whiners out there who think the missing bridge on your trail won't be replaced. BZZT. You are wrong. These bridges are now the "Cat's Meow" for DOTs all over the world. SEE THIS LINK.
And now, just GETTING UNDERWAY in NY. A similar project. But this one involves TWELVE (12) ped bridges. Does anyone here reading this think it is going to take 25 years for this to get done? Read about this project.

And read here About the details of the 12 interesting bridges. (And Jeff A. put me down for 5 years on this project in NY. CDP)
Why aren't motorists being charged after hitting a bicyclist or pedestrian?
Bicyclist dies after being struck by car near Northampton High School
NORTHAMPTON — A car struck and killed a bicyclist on Wednesday afternoon near the intersection of Woodlawn Avenue and Elm Street near Northampton High School.

The victim was a 69-year-old Northampton man, according to the Northwestern district attorney’s office. The driver, a 23-year-old Haydenville woman, stayed at the scene and cooperated with police. No charges or citations have been issued. Read more.
Connecticut towns along rail trail look to make road crossings safer
As Connecticut enacts a tougher pedestrian safety law, Avon and Southington are working to reduce accidents and near-hits at intersections along the New and Northampton Canal Heritage Greenway.

Southington officials plan to talk later this month about new strategies — possibly including flashing beacons — for the trail’s West Main Street crossing, where an off-duty EMT was run down in the painted crosswalk.

The 21-year-old victim, who had been jogging, was hospitalized for two days; so far, the 30-year-old motorist involved has not been charged. Read more
New signs commemorate site of historic train wreck in CT.
BY JASON BLEAU– The town of Thompson, CT held a special ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 3, unveiling signs that now mark the location of one of the most historic events in town history. Read more.
Rail trail connecting West Groton to Townsend Mass officially opened
By JACOB VITALI October 3, 2021

TOWNSEND — As the crisp autumn air now becomes the daily expectation across Massachusetts and picturesque foliage takes hold, a newly opened rail trail in Townsend could be a local destination to appreciate both.

Saturday saw Squannacook Greenways, Inc., officially open the first phase of the Squannacook River Rail Trail, which will run between Townsend and West Groton. Phase one spans 1.1 miles between Depot Street and Old Meeting House Road. However, the final project will be about 3.7 miles in total. Read more.
Here's an interesting blog about a fellow's trip on the East Coast Greenway--day by day. Gary's Trip down the East Coast Greenway
Increasingly popular e-bikes are everywhere — and live in a legal gray zone in Massachusetts
By Taylor Dolven Boston Globe Staff
(Very nice article and it even mentions that Valley Bike Share is around here. However the most important feature of Valley Bike is they can go 20MPH on streets, but have an internal governor that when on a bike path, they cannot go over 12MPH. That is important, but not seen in the article. CDP) Read more
YARMOUTH, MAINE — The Casco Bay Trail Alliance today released an integrated vision for trains and trails in Southern Maine.

"The debate about the future of unused rail corridors has sometimes been framed as a 'battle' between train and trail advocates," said Sue Ellen Bordwell, President of the Casco Bay Trail Alliance. "That makes no sense here, because we can have both." Read More
 Montpelier, Vt. - Governor Phil Scott and the Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT) today announced the opening of an additional 6.3 miles of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT) between Sheldon and Highgate.

“Outdoor recreation is key to Vermont’s economy and quality of life, and this new section of trail offers exciting new opportunities,” said Governor Scott. “There is no better time than now to get outside and enjoy all the Green Mountain State has to offer, and I hope many Vermonters and visitors get the chance to enjoy the benefits of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail.” Read more
Interesting, "High-Altitude" Stories From Around the Country and Sometimes Beyond.
What are 15 minute neighborhoods?
New report calls for state action.
Transit? Check. Groceries? Check. Open space? Check — all within a 15-minute walk from your home.

In a new report, authors from the Massachusetts Housing Partnership and Boston Indicators make a case for a broader approach to the 15-minute neighborhood model, in order to build an interconnected network of these neighborhoods across the region and ensure equitable access to resources. This, however, won’t be possible without committed policy action from the state. Read more, HERE and here.
The pandemic has changed the workplace, lessening the need for office space and with safer biking in big cities--there is a growing demand for living in-town. It is very ironic that the old Chicago Tribune building--where May Watts letter to the editor in in 1963 was published, is now becoming housing partially because cities are more bike and ped friendly.
Read her letter here. To the right you'll see what is going on with the Tribune building now.
More office buildings being converted to apartments than ever before Meghan McCarty Carino MARKETPLACE

It has been a record year for apart-ment conversions. According to data from Rent Cafe, developers created about 20,000 new apartment units this year in buildings that used to serve some other purpose, like offices, schools, or hospitals – a process called adaptive reuse.

One example of that is the iconic Tribune Tower. The building is 36 stories of Gothic splendor in the heart of downtown Chicago. The head-quarters of the old Chicago Tribune newspaper.

“That’s a beautiful historic building, lots of great architectural detail,” said Strachan Forgan, an architect with the firm SCB, which just completed a conversion of the building into 162 residential units.

It’s a process drawing increasing interest as housing remains in short supply in many cities, while demand for office space is going down.

“You can take just a beautiful historic building … and give it another 200-plus year lifespan,” Forgan said.Read more.

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.
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!