Metacomet Greenway has First Annual Meeting
By Marjorie Turner Hollman
For anyone who has ever visited a rail trail, or even a local trail that is well maintained, it is easy to take for granted the work that has gone into creating and maintaining even the most simple path through a park, garden, or woodland. The task of creating a new trail network, however, is pretty daunting, and the folks working on the proposed Metacomet Greenway have been very busy.
The group held their first annual meeting (they are nearly finished with their paperwork to be a 501c3 organization) November 17 at the Fiske Library in Wrentham. The scale of the project they are undertaking is impressive. The proposed trail is planned to follow the path of a former rail line that ran from Walpole, through Norfolk, Wrentham, Plainville and North Attleboro.
Some towns, such as Walpole and Plainville, already have the rights to most of the proposed trail. Norfolk and Wrentham both have feasibility engineering studies underway, an important milestone in creating a new greenway. Community Preservation funds in Norfolk and Wrentham are being put to use to pay for the engineering studies. Plainville owns most of the land along the proposed rail trail corridor. North Attleboro owns almost none of the land needed to build the trail through its town borders. Crossing Rt. 1A is a challenge that will need to be dealt with.
The group has a budget but has been constrained in fund-raising until it receives its non-profit status confirmation from the IRS. In the meantime, they are seeking new members, with the basic membership costing $35 while other levels of membership are available as well.
Greenway president Zack McKeever, who led the meeting, noted, “We’re trying to get this project on the towns’ radar.”
One of the biggest challenges facing the group in these early planning stages is that there is no trail that is publicly accessible yet, so they lack pretty photos to help get folks excited about the project. McKeever commented, “It is difficult getting people excited when we don’t have bridges or other great photos to share with people.”
Indeed, at this early stage, it is a great challenge to help people visualize how this trail could transform the communities it will run through. A healthy dose of imagination helps. Perhaps some visits to other area rail trails can also help area residents picture what it will be like to have a rail trail nearby, providing a way for individuals and families to get outside and travel by foot or bike along the path the Metacomet Greenway will someday cover.
Get in on the fun, hard work, and ground floor of planning to make this trail a reality in your community. The group’s next public meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, January 26 at 7 p.m., tentatively at the Fiske Library.