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‘Exciting time’ to join rail trail group

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WESTFIELD-For avid bike rider Donna Green, becoming a member of the Friends of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail last summer has been a “good fit.”

“It is a super exciting time for the rail trail project,” said Green, who is the incoming director of membership. “We’re one step closer to connecting the sections of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail.”

Green added that the “100% design package for the central section” of the rail trail was completed by Vanesse Hangen Brustlin Inc. and was submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MA DOT) in January.

“The entire central section, connecting Main Street up to the Westfield River, will be above grade and includes five bridges that will either be refurbished or replaced,” said Green.

Green noted that the next steps include the DOT reviewing the design package and providing comments, with bids for construction going out by early summer.

“We’re cautiously optimistic the central section will be open for use in late 2020,” said Green.

The design plans can be viewed at…/Greenway-100-Design-Plans…

Area residents interested in becoming involved with the Friends group are invited to attend the monthly meetings conducted at the YMCA of Greater Westfield. The next meeting is slated for Feb. 19 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the board room.

While the agenda is still being finalized, Green noted that three key volunteer positions are open and encourages individuals interested in the rail trail to consider joining the board of directors.

The open board positions include a director of planning/development, director of resource development, and director of education.

“The director of planning/development would be responsible for working with the City of Westfield to facilitate the goals of the construction of the trail and assisting in the creation of a long-range strategic plan for a city-wide network of safe, accessible and viable transportation routes,” said Green.

Green added that the director of resource development would be responsible for planning, development and implementation of the organization’s resource development plans, including grant writing, major/principal gifts, and naming opportunities.

“The director of education position will be responsible for researching and analyzing best practices and conducting impact studies on issues or policies related to the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail,” said Green.

All positions are elected for two-year terms and Friends members will be available prior to the start of the meeting to discuss the different roles more in-depth with interested individuals.

In addition to the election of board members for 2019-2020, the Friends group has a busy meeting agenda that includes discussion of its plans to participate in the city’s 350th anniversary festivities. 

“We are currently working on a yoga program on the Westfield River Esplanade, as well as a bike rodeo for children, and a ‘Trail Quest’ event for teams to solve puzzles and win prizes,” said Green.

Also, Green said that new legislation clarifying bicycle laws will be discussed at the meeting.

Green, a city resident since 1999, is hopeful that more individuals will want to become involved with the Friends group in a variety of capacities because of the “vibrancy” that is being experienced in the downtown area.

“Our mission is to be a pedestrian and bicycle friendly community,” said Green. “We have an opportunity to show that the rail trail is part of the vibrancy that the downtown is experiencing. It is an exciting time to be involved.”

Green added that a diverse group of people joining the Friends group is beneficial to the organization.

“The Friends group is not just people who ride bikes,” said Green, adding, “for example, new moms who are seeking alternate routes away from traffic to push a carriage can provide important feedback by looking at the rail trail from a different perspective.”

For more information on the Friends group, visit

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