Deep Gratitude and Excitement for 2016

Paradise Pond -- Jim Gipe Photo/Pivot Media

Paradise Pond — Jim Gipe Photo/Pivot Media

Dear Mill River Greenway lovers,

We are filled with gratitude and excitement as 2016 begins.  Above all, we are grateful for your outpouring of support for our work with The Conway School for a gap analysis of the watershed’s natural, cultural, and recreational assets. It will help us set priorities for the next 5 years and provide an inventory and analysis of all our maps, images, documents, and GIS materials.

WE HAVE EXCEEDED OUR GOAL for funding this program and really can’t believe how lucky we are to have been able to meet you, walk with you, bring you out to the river and have you respond with such generosity and spontaneity.

Wow, we’re simply overwhelmed with the support of MORE THAN 50 of our Mill River folks.  We will be sending out letters of thanks and tax deduction receipts to everyone within the next 2 weeks, so if you have donated but not been recognized with a note, please let us know.

But wait, we’re not finished with the good news.

First, Maggie Leonard, landscape designer/builder/planner, as well as a former adjunct instructor at UMass and the owner of Paradise City Landscape Design, has agreed to lead MRGI in our initiative with the Conway School of Landscape Design/Easthampton Branch.  Maggie is an extraordinarily capable landscape architect/regional planner, an excellent teacher, and a strategic thinker.  She will have the full support of Gaby, John, and Neal, as well as our GIS guru at Smith, Jon Caris.  We will have 2 Conway students to work with on this project, which begins the second week of January and concludes at the end of March.  There will be a crucial community listening session at some point mid-way, which you will be hearing more about as soon as the students get cracking.

Second, our two projects with Smith students will continue through the Spring term. The first is an engineering design for the “goat path” connector from the rail trail at the Leeds/Haydenville line to South Main St. in Haydenville. The second is a self-guided walking tour brochure for Industrial Florence. The engineering project is happening under the watchful eye of Susannah Howe, Director of the Smith College Design Clinic, and the brochure effort is being led by Wendy Sinton of the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee and Scott Laidlaw, an architect from Florence.

Third, working with the Williamsburg Mill River Greenway Committee, Peter Flinker and intern Nelle Ward of Dodson and Flinker Associates have delivered a superb analysis of the options for trail siting across the Brassworks Meadow area in Haydenville, part of the eventual link between Haydenville and Williamsburg Center.

Fourth, our watershed-wide approach to managing invasive plant species will take a big leap forward with the imminent release of a management plan being created by the New England Wild Flower Society on behalf of Smith College.

Let us know if you have any questions or would like to see copies of, or contribute to any of these projects.

You have warmed our hearts in this season of cold.  We will continue to work tirelessly to fulfill our promises to all of you and especially to the river that runs through us.


All the best, with hopes of seeing you all in ’16,

Gaby, John, and Neal

PS A shout out to Jim Gipe, who allowed us to use this gorgeous 2009 photo!



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