It’s been three months since we last corresponded with you, dear MRGI supporters, and, after a Dam Walk and wonderful winter celebration to cap off a productive 2016, we’ve caught our breath and are ready to head into springtime.
- The Leeds-Haydenville Connection: Our happiest news is the completion of the trail dismount (aka the “Goat Path”) in Haydenville, which included grading, guard rails, and native restoration plantings. Thanks again to the Williamsburg Highway Department for their time and skill in completing the project just before the snow fell! Gaby is now leading the charge to complete the surfacing of the last half-mile of rail trail between Leeds and Haydenville; City of Northampton and Town of Williamsburg have applied for grants together, so keep your fingers crossed! If the grants are awarded the project will occur in Spring 2018.
- Dam Disaster Brochure: We are planning our next brochure to tell the story of the Williamsburg Dam Disaster. Unlike our first three, this one will cover several miles of river, from the site of the old Williamsburg Dam to the floodplain at Florence Fields. Elizabeth Sharpe (In the Shadow of the Dam author) and Paul Jahnige (Williamsburg Woodland Trails Committee Chair) will be working with local historians Ralmon Black and Eric Weber to develop the text and images. Gaby will have a Smith intern ready to expedite the work, which John will shepherd through the process of design and printing with Rob and Damia at their Transit Authority Figures design shop. The Woodlands Trails Committee is also planning for interpretive signage along the trail itself. The trail itself was completed last fall and is accessible off Ashfield Road near the intersection of Judd Lane in Williamsburg.
- Interpretive Signs for the Hidden Mill: A lot is happening at Smith this term. Reid Bertone-Johnson’s studio will be working on signage for the Hidden Mill River reach of the river. Once we have text and designs for the signs, we will seek grants to work with Wayne Feiden, Northampton’s planner, to establish interpretive signs along the self-guided riverwalk route.
- Designs for Florence Fields: Reid’s class will also be scoping out a path from the parking lot at the downstream (southern) end of the recreation fields to the banks of the Mill River, a trail along the rivers edge, and, we hope, a crossing into Look Park. Smith senior Meg Kirsch is creating plans for an outdoor classroom at the river’s edge.
- Riverwalks? We look forward to planning at least two walks and a paddle this spring and summer. We will plan a paddle in April from Arcadia up to the South St. barrier if we have sufficient high water. We hope to work with Laurie Sanders and Betty Sharpe to find a date for a combined Historic Northampton/MRGI riverwalk at Florence Fields this summer and with John Clapp on a Roberts Meadow Brook walk this year, as well. Please, dear Mill River lovers, let us know if there are any riverwalks you would like to do again or new riverwalks on your bucket list.
As always, we wish you a joyous time on the river that runs through us!
Gaby, John, and Neal