Erving officials considering cross-town trail to Wendell, Orange

  • A map of Wendell State Forest where a prospective trail would traverse, as presented to the Selectboard. CONTRIBUTED IMAGE

Staff Writer
Published: 8/7/2022 4:05:59 PM
Modified: 8/7/2022 4:02:42 PM

ERVING — Assistant Town Planner Mariah Kurtz looks to speak with officials in the North Quabbin region about the prospect of linking towns via a new trail for pedestrians and cyclists after receiving the Selectboard’s approval during last week’s meeting.

The path, which would connect Farley to Erving Center and end around Wendell Depot, has been considered for nearly two decades, according to “half a dozen or so” strategic plans cited by Kurtz. She said she was further encouraged by Orange’s recent effort to establish a similar pathway to Athol.

Erving’s proposed path would cross over parcels owned by the town of Wendell, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and private landowners. With the Selectboard’s approval, Kurtz’s next step is to communicate with Wendell’s Selectboard to determine potential collaboration.

“This project could improve recreational access to the Millers River, provide safe cycling for residents and visitors, interconnect with existing trails on the Wendell State Forest and provide transportation access for residents,” Kurtz wrote in a message to Erving’s Selectboard.

Over the past 15 to 20 years, mention of the prospective trail has been made in the 2021 Erving Recreation Strategic Plan, 2016 Regional Transportation Plan, mid-2010s Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Capital Improvements Plan, 2011 Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) 3C Plan, 2009 FRCOG Regional Bikeway Plan and 2002 Erving Master Plan, according to Kurtz’s research. In addition to the town’s history of considering the idea, she added, installing such a path through Erving would coincide with the town’s recent efforts to improve walkability.

“Over the past three years, Erving has worked diligently to improve pedestrian access throughout the Erving Center neighborhood by improving sidewalks and street crossings,” Kurtz wrote to the Selectboard. “As we cross off projects from our Complete Streets project list … there is an opportunity to increase pedestrian and cyclist access by creating a shared-use path that connects Farley, Erving Center and potentially Wendell Depot in Orange.”

In an email, Wendell Town Coordinator Glenn Johnson-Mussad said Kurtz initially “briefed (him) on the concept several months ago.”

“Sounds like an interesting project; we’d like to learn more,” he wrote. “We’ve invited Mariah to present to the Selectboard whenever she’s ready.”

In addition to scheduling an appointment with Wendell’s Selectboard, Kurtz said she will consider meeting with Wendell’s Open Space Committee and Conservation Commission. She will also consider “more formally talking with Orange” after having already spoken with the town’s Planning and Community Development Director Alec Wade.

“I recognize that the actual trail, most of it wouldn’t actually be in our town, but I think that it would serve our residents very well and serve a more regional purpose,” Kurtz told Erving’s Selectboard.

Selectboard member William Bembury called the concept a “good idea” that Kurtz should “certainly” pursue further, a sentiment that was seconded by Chair Jacob Smith.

“I think everyone’s looking for more expansion in being able to go farther than what they do in that area currently,” Bembury said. “I think it will be very much welcomed by the other towns as well.”

Aside from continued communication with local officials, next steps include public engagement, a feasibility study, a budget proposal with outlined plans for funding and grant exploration. To start, Kurtz plans to apply for a MassTrails state grant to fund a feasibility study.

Reach Julian Mendoza
at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or


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