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Norfolk/Wrentham - Local Town Pages

Rail Trail in Early Planning Stages

Oct 28, 2020 11:57AM ● By Marjorie Turner Hollman
Towns near Norfolk and Wrentham host portions of rail trails which are popular draws for area residents looking to spend time safely outdoors in this current pandemic. Walking, biking, rollerblading are all popular pastimes as we seek ways to keep healthy. But Norfolk and Wrentham have, up until recently, had no plans for a rail trail, despite the presence of abandoned railbeds in both towns.
Norfolk residents Peter Svalbe and Zack McKeever are hoping this situation may soon change. Svalbe’s home abuts an abandoned rail line and he worked last year to garner local interest. But after some initial steps in that direction, other life demands got in the way. At the beginning of the pandemic in March, McKeever inquired on a local Facebook page about area rail trails, and got connected with Svalbe. Together, they have breathed new life into the efforts to create the Metacomet Greenway trail. The proposed trail would travel from Walpole, through Norfolk, in the Pondville area, past the Rice Complex in Wrentham, south into Plainville and North Attleboro, eventually meeting up with the Blackstone Bikeway in Central Falls, RI.
When asked what is there today, the easy answer was, “Poison ivy!” But with a little more probing, we learned that the proposed path of the trail will also offer some water views in both Norfolk and Wrentham. Svalbe noted that in Norfolk, leading up to Walpole, much of the trail is wide, with soft footing, and is very peaceful.
Svalbe and McKeever have gathered the support of a number of area town officials who are working together with the common goal of creating a cohesive trail to be enjoyed by all area residents for non-motorized recreation. The trail committee in Walpole has joined forces with their growing group, and Wrentham resident and Plainville Conservation agent, Chris Yarworth, is also helping out. Wrentham town planner Rachel Benson, a Plainville resident, is involved, as well as Jeff Plympton and Chuck Adelsberger. Norfolk Town Planner Rich McCarthy, a North Attleboro resident, is also involved in the effort.
The biggest issues? Obtaining easements vs. land purchases, money for a feasibility study, engineering, assuring privacy for local abutters, safety, access, and road crossings.
Svalbe noted that with McKeever’s support they are now holding monthly zoom meetings for interested participants and gathering names for their mailing list so they can plan activities and talk about challenges and successes. The group is conducting ongoing discussions with Community Preservation Coalition (CPC) committees in the towns through which the proposed trail will pass.

 View along proposed trail in Wrentham.

Despite so much bad news that keeps making headlines about COVID-19, the efforts of area residents, who found themselves stuck at home at the beginning of the pandemic, have turned into something quite positive.
As McKeever observed, “Everyone was home—this was an interesting side project that has blossomed into something nice.” Friendships established, hopes and dreams becoming reality with a lot of effort, and a dash of imagination—you never know what can happen when people work together.
None of this will become a reality overnight, but we are hopeful that one day, the Metacomet Greenway will be one more among a host of great outdoor places where both residents and visitors can head to spend time  with family and friends.
To learn more and lend your support, contact the committee at [email protected] or go to their Facebook page,


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