Easthampton exploring trail expansions

  • Robert Cone, Agawam native, rides his bike on the Mahan Rail Trail in Easthampton on Tuesday, August 1, 2017.

Staff Writer
Published: 2/12/2019 12:00:28 AM

EASTHAMPTON – City officials are asking the public for help in envisioning a multi-use trail network to connect schools, Nonotuck Park, and the downtown area to residential neighborhoods and the Manhan Rail Trail. 

On Tuesday, the Easthampton Planning Department and graduate students from the Conway School of Landscape Design are holding an “interactive community meeting” where residents will be asked to provide feedback on current pedestrian and bicycle accessibility to trails and their future preferences for connectivity. 

The meeting, which will have childcare available, will be held from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Cafe Commons at Easthampton High School. 

A major goal of the project will be to connect the existing bike trails with the new pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade school that will be built at the current White Brook Middle School property, according to City Planner Jeffrey Bagg. Currently, there are many informal, dirt trails that traverse Williston Northampton School’s property, Nonotuck Park, and through nearby neighborhoods. 

“The concept of connecting bicycles and pedestrians to schools was clearly established in the 2008 Master Plan,” Bagg said. “This initial visioning project is a key step in creating community support and consensus around potential new connections.” 

Graduate students from the Conway School, located on Village Hill Road in Northampton, will conduct the meeting. The workshop will include mapping activities and residents will be asked about their preferences of where future trails could be built.

A report with inventories of current connection points to the rail trail and a proposal for potential multi-use trail networks in Easthampton will be developed by Conway graduate students. 

The team will use information gathered from public meetings, stakeholder input, Geographic Information Systems data layers, and city maps to determine what challenges there are for bringing greater accessibility to trails across the city. 

In the report, recommendations will be given to the city on a conception trail network that will need to be further developed into a more detailed, site-specific design, based on a proposal for the Easthampton Trail Connectivity Plan by the Conway School. 

The collaboration between Easthampton and the Conway School was made possible through a grant from the state Housing Choice Program to partially fund the $10,000 for the conceptual project.

Luis Fieldman can be reached at lfieldman@gazettenet.com 

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