Welcome to FNTG

Welcome to the Friends of Northampton (MA) Trails and Greenways, a community-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization devoted to improving the expanding rail-trail network in Northampton,
Massachusetts.

Summer newsletter available

The summer newsletter is now available (click here). It includes an update from the trails, info about trail development, the Leeds Hotel Bridge, happenings in Southampton, a review of the renovated Norwottuck Rail Trail, the winner of the Trail Neighbor award, and a report on the Sweet Spoken Tweed Ride.

Celebrate the completion of the Mass Central Rail Trail / Norwottuck renovation

Dear friends and supports of the MCRT – Norwottuck,

DCR and MassDOT are planning to hold a ribbon cutting event to celebrate the completion of the MCRT – Norwottuck Reconstruction Project on August 5, 2015.

Time and details to follow. Please save the date.

More details can be found at http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/region-west/norwottuck-rail-trail.html.

Trail construction (and trail closures) in Leeds)

The MassCentral Rail Trail extension will be beginning in Leeds as some point in the middle of July, 2015. For much of the construction the existing and new section of the trail north of Florence Street/Mulberry Street and Grove Avenue will be closed.

Winners of 2015 Trail Neighbor Award

Kudos to Gaby Immerman and John Sinton of the Mill River Greenway Initiative for their efforts on behalf of the riverways and greenways of our area. John and Gaby are the recipients of the 2015 Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways Trail Neighbor Award, bestowed by Sean Kinlin at today’s Bike Breakfast in Northampton.

These two individuals have helped to improve our understanding of the Mill River ecosystem and our historical and current connection to it, and embody the spirit of the Trail Neighbor Award. Interested in learning more about Gaby and John? Check out the following video clip from Connecting Point: http://connectingpoint.wgby.org/2015/05/mill-river-greenway/
More information about the Mill River Greenway Initiative can be found at: http://millrivergreenway.org/.

reminder of trail cleanup and Tweed Ride on Sunday, May 10th

NORTHAMPTON BIKE PATH SPRING CLEANING
We need your help!

Although many parts of our trail system are being ably well-cleaned by Trail Adopters, some sections need special help at this time of the year. Come join John Power and others in cleaning the downtown section from King Street to Pleasant Street on

Sunday May 10th 9:00-11:00 AM

Meet at the bike path ramp behind the Calvin Theatre.

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REMINDER: FNTG TWEED RIDE ALSO ON SUNDAY

We will meet in the pedestrian plaza behind Thorne’s Market at 2:30 PM, and set off on a leisurely paced, family-friendly ride along Northampton’s bicycle trail network, ending at Look Park. There, Sweet Spoken will serve light refreshments, similar to an afternoon tea. Riders will be able to have their portraits taken with their vintage attire and bikes, and we’ll have live music to enjoy as we socialize. Registration required: please visit www.bikereg.com/tweedride to sign up.

John Gaustad, Secretary, FNTG
Caleb Langer, Sweet Spoken

Sweet Spoken Spring Tweed Ride on Sunday, May 10th

Sweet Spoken bicycle patisserie is organizing a Spring Tweed Ride benefiting FNTG on Sunday, May 10th from Downtown Northampton to Look Park! The perfect way to kick off Bike Week and enjoy Mother’s Day afternoon with your family, we will follow in the tradition of the Tweed Ride—or “Tweed Run”— started in London, England. A fun, casual, social ride, participants will come dressed in traditional tweed, seersucker or similar attire, and are encouraged to bring along their vintage bicycles, though any bicycle is welcomed!

We will meet in the pedestrian plaza behind Thorne’s Market at 2:30 PM, and will set off on a leisurely paced, family-friendly ride along Northampton’s bicycle trail network, ending at Look Park. There, Sweet Spoken will serve light refreshments, similar to an afternoon tea. Riders will be able to have their portraits taken with their vintage attire and bikes, and we’ll have live music to enjoy as we socialize.

Sweet Spoken has created this event to benefit our group, the Friends of Northampton Trails & Greenways (FNTG), as a way of saying ‘thanks’ and to invest in our ongoing work supporting the improvement of our trail system for the residents and visitors of the Pioneer Valley. Riders will be able to choose from our registration options, which offer a range of donation levels to FNTG, all of which include a complementary one-year membership.

Please visit www.bikereg.com/tweedride to sign up and support FNTG. We’re looking forward to a fun afternoon along Northampton’s trails, and we hope to see you there!

Updated maps of the trail network

The wonderful map-makers at the Smith College Spatial Analysis Lab have once again done their magic, with updated rail trail maps of Northampton and Easthampton. We’re hoping to reprint our map and brochure in the coming months, and would welcome any feedback or suggestions (deadline March 15, 2015).

The maps can be found here.

Growing the Multi-Use Trail Network – The projects, the plans, and the region

March 10, 7:00 pm: EVENING TALK (GROWING OUR TRAIL NETWORK)
Northampton Friends Meetinghouse, 43 Center Street

We’d encourage you to save the date for an evening lecture on Tuesday, March 10th at 7:00pm that Wayne Feiden will be presenting. Wayne is Director of the City’s Office of Planning and Sustainability his talk is entitled “Growing the Multi-Use Trail Network – The projects, the plans, and the region.” The event is free and open to the public.

ABSTRACT: Northampton’s rail and multi-use trail network continues to grow, with two projects planned for 2015, one for 2016, three more in design, and two in planning. Come hear where we are going on building a strong bicycle infrastructure. We will also include some brainstorming to help us prioritize future projects and next steps.

CONSIDER GETTING INVOLVED: We’re looking for some volunteers to help with the map and brochure, serve on the advisory committee, assist with trail counts, lead a tour of the trails, or contribute to the spring newsletter. FNTG is intended to be an umbrella that can provide support to various efforts (but we can’t function without your support). A modest time commitment can make a big difference.

More information about the Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways can be found on our website (www.fntg.net). We hope to see you at the upcoming meetings or on the trails!

Nick Horton
President, Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways
PO Box 60643
Florence, MA 01062-0643

Planning meeting: all welcomed

We’ll be hosting a planning meeting on Monday, March 2nd at 7:30pm at 341 Prospect Street, Northampton. We’d encourage you to join us as we plan for the spring and beyond. Tentative agenda items include reprinting our map and brochure, establishing an advisory committee, organizing a spring trail cleanup, approving the transfer of funds from the holiday appeal, working to improve the plowing of the trail network in the winter, writing a spring newsletter, and helping to support expansions and improvements.

Updates and holiday appeal

As I write this, Amtrak is preparing to return to Northampton after too long of an absence. I can’t wait to take the train to Vermont or New York when it restarts once per day service from Northampton on December 29th. This change is a culmination of a long-overdue upgrade of the tracks and facilities, and should make travel faster and more reliable (and facilitate ecotourism trips utilizing the train or other transit options). Kudos to Mayor Narkewicz, Wayne Feiden and the Office of Planning and Sustainability, the Norwottuck Rail Trail Advisory Committee as well as our state and federal representatives and their staffmembers.

I’m also looking forward to biking along our “rail with trail” downtown as well as through the new bike and pedestrian underpass, which is scheduled to be installed in 2015. According to Natalie Blais from Representative McGovern’s office, the tunnel is designed and paid for. It is a required state match for the federal ARRA funds that were utilized to move the Vermonter over to the west side of the Connecticut River.

Until the underpass is opened, all trail users should travel on the officially designated road connection instead of illegally crossing the tracks. This is important because the trains that will be traveling \emph{much} faster than in previous years. The rail upgrade project contractors will be adding new fences to deter trespassing. The official road detour (on Market Street to North Street) is well-signposted and needs to be the default for all users to ensure safe crossings.

In the past year, there have been wonderful improvements to the trails. The long-awaited rehabilitation of the Norwottuck Rail Trail is almost complete (with the trail officially open from Northampton to Station Road in Amherst). The final component is scheduled to be completed by the late spring of 2015. Kudos to the DCR for the much smoother (glass-free!) surface along with benches, plantings, signage, and other amenities.

We are again working with our partners at the Friends of the Manhan Rail Trail to reprint our popular trail map and brochure. If you have suggestions of businesses who might be willing to sponsor an ad, please let us know.

The Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways continues to work with the City of Northampton to help design, build, maintain, and improve the local trail network. We’re most appreciative of the city’s new kiosks (funded by a grant proposal that we wrote with the City and MassBike), the adopt-a-trail program (see related article), and land acquisitions (see related article). There are also exciting developments in Williamsburg (see related article), as well as efforts to build out the trail to Boston (see related article), and down to New Haven (with trail projects underway in Westfield).

As always, we value your continued support. Since 2006, the Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways has provided donations of more than $30,000 which have leveraged over $15 million dollars and 11 miles of rail trails. Through the FNTG annual appeal, we raised $5,000 this past year to support efforts to improve trail signage, to match state funding, and to plug gaps in the local trail network. We hope that you are able to support this future work (click here to donate online).

Nicholas Horton, President