Posted: 2022-04-07 20:25:33
Modified: 07/04/2022 20:24:32
HATFIELD – Hatfield could be connected to the regional multi-use trail network if a trail stretching along the Connecticut River in Northampton, first proposed more than a decade ago, receives state funding.
This week the Select Board voted 2-0, in the absence of Chair Diana Szynal, to approve a bid submitted by Wayne Feiden, Northampton’s Director of Planning and Sustainability, which would cover the estimated cost of 6, $8 million for the construction of the new, 1.3-mile long track.
If built, the pedestrian and bicycle trail would provide Hatfield residents with a link to the regional trail network for the first time, which includes the Norwottuck Rail Trail, the 11-mile paved trail that runs along Boston’s old railroad tracks. & Maine from Northampton to Belchertown.
Mark Gelotte, a member of the town’s open space committee, told the select committee that the concept for the proposed multi-use path from Northampton to Hatfield was first detailed in 2008 and by 2010 it was backed by officials of Hatfield, although at that time he had no known source of funding.
Since then, only limited work has been done that could prepare the ground for construction. This work included surveys along the route which were paid for with grants.
According to the concepts, the trail would be almost entirely contained on protected land that the City of Northampton owns or controls. It would stretch from a private road behind River Run Condominiums on Damon Road, at times, following existing railway tracks, to Elm Court in Hatfield. Only about the last quarter mile of the trail would be in Hatfield.
Gelotte said photographs taken from vantage points along the future trail show how scenic it could be for those using it, including views across fields to the Honeypot section of Hadley, the Seven Sisters of the Mount Holyoke Range and the river.
“The view of the Connecticut River is just stunning,” Gelotte said.
Support from the Select Board will be included in the project need form that Feiden submits to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
Some board members Brian Moriarty and Edmund Jaworski both said they liked the idea of the trail because it could provide a new safe outdoor space for residents.
Moriarty said his only concern was potentially reducing the quiet area of Elm Court if a parking area were to be built.
“My concern is changing the dynamic of Elm Court, traffic-wise, potentially,” Moriarty said.
Gelotte said the future parking situation is uncertain, but Hatfield may need to provide a limited number of spaces in that vicinity.
Scott Merzbach can be contacted at [email protected]