Hello Autumn! Hello Mill River Community!
Hoping this finds you refreshed by the crisp weather and busily battening down the hatches for the winter ahead. We three humble co-conspirators at the MRGI continue our diligent efforts to celebrate and elevate our river. To wit…
Mill River, the Book
We were delighted and humbled to see so many of you at the launch party for John’s gorgeous new book, Devil’s Den to Lickingwater: The Mill River Through Landscape & History, published by Levellers Press. Deeply researched and lavishly illustrated, the book is a must-have for Mill River lovers (holiday gift time is not so far off!).
John will be presenting different sections of the book at upcoming events at Historic Northampton at 4:00 Saturday, December 1; at the Leeds School on Wednesday evening at 7:00 January 9 (snow date January 10); on Feb. 21st at 7:00 a re-run of the Historic Northampton talk at Northampton Community Arts Trust at 33 Hawley St. (Historic Northampton is undergoing renovations); at Meekins Library in Williamsburg on March 13th at 6:30; and at Audubon’s Arcadia Sanctuary on October 8th. Additional events are in the planning stages for Smith College, Forbes Library, University of Massachusetts, and the Hitchcock Center. John would be happy to entertain invitations for other venues as well.
You can pick up a copy at Collective Copies in Florence or Amherst or at Broadside Books in Northampton. You can also order it from Amazon.
Williamsburg Rolls Along
Team Williamsburg has been able to accelerate its progress this fall with an additional $100,000 in funds from the Massachusetts DCR Recreational Trails Grant program. Design and engineering work continues under the town’s contract with the great folks at VHB Engineering. The Phase II Pre-Construction Design Development Study has been expanded to include survey and field research toward the development of the new Skinnerville park parcel approved for purchase at Town Meeting in June.
VHB is also helping the Williamsburg Mill River Greenway Committee move forward on two fronts:
1. Improvements to the safety and accessibility of the Fort Hill Road-South Main Street intersection in Haydenville;
2. a study to qualify South Main Street for the MA DOT Complete Streets program, which funds improvements that benefit cars, bikes, and walkers as they traverse South Main Street between the Rail Trail and the Greenway (which will begin at the Library Bridge in Haydenville).
3. Surfacing of the rail trail from Leeds to Haydenville was completed this fall under an elegant partnership between Williamsburg and Northampton. Because the project spanned the town line, the two communities made an agreement to have Northampton supply materials, and Williamsburg Highway Department perform the work. The 1/2 mile or so of pavement formally linked Haydenville into the Mass Central Rail Trail system, which will someday connect all the way to Boston. The Burgy Greenway committee hopes to create a wayside parklet at the switchback, with benches and interpretive signage to mark the terminus of the MCRT.
Smith Design Clinic Rides Again!
We’re blessed once again this year to have the extraordinary help of Smith College’s Design Clinic under the masterful guidance of Engineering Professor Susannah Howe. Our four Smithie seniors (Jess McKnight, Bea Dalton, Kelsey Hammond, and Serena Cattau) will be providing us with designs for the final grade and a new pedestrian bike bridge at the terminus of the Mass Central Rail Trail in Haydenville, the gateway to the Burgy Mill River Greenway. Everyone will have the chance to check out their work and provide feedback at a community forum in April 2019.
Your humble co-conspirators are opening a discussion on a strategic plan for the next five years of MRGI initiatives. We expect that the Haydenville to Williamsburg Center project will break ground five years from now in 2023 (fingers crossed!) by which time will need to:
1. Consider a more robust organization with its own 501(c)(3) non-profit status that can serve as a “Friends of the Mill River Greenway” advocacy group;
2. Establish the next steps in the development of a physical greenway connecting Goshen to Northampton via trail, scientific study areas, and virtual trails along reaches that need to remain off limits to active recreation.
See You in Spring, We’re Wintering on the Website
We will organize a MRGI meeting for our community next spring, but for now, we open the floor to your ideas. We have already received several suggestions about the website, which we will spend some time this winter updating. If you have any thoughts about the river or MRGI, please let us know. Are there river reaches you’d like us to focus on for whatever reason, whether recreation, scientific or cultural study, or exploration? After all, the river runs through all of us.
We hope to see you a book event in the coming months and to hearing from you about any Mill River thought on your mind.
May the river always flow through us!
Gaby, Neal, and John