Thursday, September 29, 2016

Mayor Announces $15,000 Grant to Construct Hiking Trail in Holyoke

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation has awarded the City of Holyoke $15,000 to construct a hiking trail that will link West Holyoke with the New England Scenic Trail across a parcel of land on Mountain Road that once served as a firing range for the National Guard.
“The City has been working for roughly a decade to convert this former National Guard firing range into a community asset,” said Mayor Alex B. Morse, “and this is one of the final pieces of that puzzle.”
Located on land that belongs to the City of Holyoke and Masswildlife, the New England Scenic Trail connector will enhance access for community members and will open up a remarkable overlook to enhance the overall appeal of the East Mountain portion of the New England Trail.
“The view from this part of East Mountain is spectacular,” said Andrew B. Smith, the City’s Conservation and Sustainability Director, “and this grant from DCR will allow more people in Holyoke and the broader region to experience it.”
This trail will be constructed across 0.3 miles of gently sloping terrain and 0.3 miles of steep terrain, Smith said. Roughly one-third of the trail is an existing, non-networked trail that links up to a scenic overlook on East Mountain and provides linkage to the New England Scenic Trail. Additionally, one footbridge will be constructed over Broad Brook and two wetlands crossings to allow hikers to observe the beauty of the Broad Brook watershed.
“Overall the goal is to enhance the quality of life for our residents,” said Mayor Morse, “and increasing outdoor recreational opportunities that highlight the beauty of Holyoke moves us closer to that goal.”
This trail will facilitate greater use by hikers in this reach of the New England Scenic Trail (NET). Presently, the only access to the NET in this area is located on either Route 202, which is heavily travelled and is a main arterial connection between Westfield and Holyoke, or off of Cherry Street adjacent to the Holyoke Revolver Club.
“Additionally, this might increase the marketability of two housing lots that the City is working to sell along the frontage of the former firing range property,” said Mr. Smith, who noted that demographic trends around the country reveal that more and more people are looking for housing that is adjacent to trails or trail networks.
It is anticipated that the trail will be fully constructed by the spring of 2018 and will be open for the public starting in the spring and summer of 2018.  
“This is a special piece of property that allows hikers to experience a wide diversity of terrain, ecosystems and vistas over the course of a two mile hike. We want people to experience and love it for generations to come,” said Mayor Morse, “I applaud Andrew Smith our Conservation and Sustainability Director for dedicating the time and energy for these projects. His efforts towards obtaining funding for improvements to the City’s outdoor spaces has made a visible difference, and I am eager to see this new trail become a great addition to our community.”

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