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New Terrace Trails a ‘neighborhood jewel’

  • Visitors walk the paths at Terrace Trails June 17, 2017 following an opening celebration at the trailhead in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Visitors read new trailhead signage at Terrace Trails June 17, 2017 during an opening celebration for the Northampton land. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Jayme Winell and Tonez Hall of Flame n' Peach and the Liberated Waffles perform June 17, 2017 during an opening celebration for Terrace Trails in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Joe Bender of the Cutchins Programs speaks during an opening celebration for Terrace Trails June 17, 2017 at the Northampton trailhead. The land is located behind Cutchins. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • New signage created by staff and students at the Cutchins Programs is displayed June 17, 2017 at the newly-opened Terrace Trails in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • A visitor reads new trailhead signage at Terrace Trails June 17, 2017 during an opening celebration for the Northampton land. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Nat Torsch of the Student Conservation Association and College Church, left, Monica Schumann of Florence, also a College Church member, and Schumann’s dog Baily walk the paths at Terrace Trails following an opening celebration Saturday at the trailhead in Northampton. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz speaks during an opening celebration for Terrace Trails June 17, 2017 at the Northampton trailhead. At his right is Jim Nash, President of the Cutchins Programs Board of Directors. The land is located behind Cutchins. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • From left, Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, Joe Bender of the Cutchins Programs and Jim Nash, president of the Cutchins Programs board of directors, chat during Saturday’s opening celebration for Terrace Trails. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz speaks during an opening celebration for Terrace Trails June 17, 2017 at the Northampton trailhead. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Jim Nash, President of the Cutchins Programs Board of Directors, speaks during an opening celebration for Terrace Trails June 17, 2017 at the Northampton trailhead. The land is located behind Cutchins. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY



@NyssaKruse
Saturday, June 17, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — A new “neighborhood jewel” opened up Saturday morning behind College Church as the city unveiled more than a mile of groomed public trail, thanks to the hard work of students and volunteers with the Cutchins Program and others.

The new Terrace Trails feature 800 feet of wheelchair- and stroller-accessible gravel paths as well as a self-guided walking tour and butterfly garden.

“This is such a great project and a great example of what the city is trying to do,” Mayor David Narkewicz said. “We’re continuing our mission as a city to preserve open spaces and create recreational opportunities.”

Joe Bender has worked with Cutchins Programs for Families and Children for more than 30 years, first as a social studies teacher and now as a custodian. He spearheaded the movement to convert the land behind Cutchins and College Church into a useable recreation area after years of on-and-off maintenance efforts from the Cutchins summer vocational program.

The land once housed the Northampton School for Girls, which abandoned the property in the 1970s.

“I like the outdoors. I love hiking,” Bender said. “It had history to it. I saw the potential to include things I cared about.”

The land was turned over to the city a few years ago, and various grants provided funding to clear and decorate the area, which used to consist of overgrown footpaths and homeless encampments.

Children and staff from Cutchins helped create the trail signs and build the benches. Cutchins offers therapy and education for children at a facility on Pomeroy Terrace, and Bender said those children can make use of the trails.

“They’re here for therapeutic and educational purposes,” Bender said. “Walking is therapeutic in a quiet place to get away, even if you’re not away.”

Jim Nash, a city councilor and the president of the Cutchins board of directors, said area residents try to create a community of care.

“Today, we celebrate a deepening of that community care,” he said.

Nash said the trail was made possible because of Bender’s efforts, and Bender in turn credited all the volunteers who worked on the project, including Bob Goss, a member of College Church and farmer who provided tools to renovate the area.

Bender said he hopes young neighbors and residents will continue to care about the trail and other conservation projects.

“I just hope we are able to motivate the next generation to come in and take the reins,” Bender said. “Things like this, if they’re not cared for, nature will just reclaim it. Right now it’s a neighborhood jewel.”