Longtime Northfield Open Space Committee member Jerry Wagener honored

  • Northfield resident Jerry Wagener makes trail signs for town trails, one of the many contributions to Northfield that earned him the 2021 Citizen Stewardship Award. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Northfield resident Jerry Wagener, pictured next to a kiosk he made for a trailhead in West Northfield, has been awarded the 2021 Citizen Stewardship Award. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

News Editor
Published: 4/10/2022 12:22:42 PM

NORTHFIELD — As Jerry Wagener prepares to retire from the Open Space Committee when his term expires this June, his fellow committee members have chosen a parting gift in the form of the 2021 Citizen Stewardship Award.

Wagener, 84, who has been a member of the Open Space Committee since it formed in 2006 and served as chair for 13 years, was presented with the award during a Selectboard meeting last week.

According to Open Space Committee Chair Julia Blyth, the award has been given since 2007 “to acknowledge someone who is an excellent steward of natural resources in town” and who helps achieve the goals of the Open Space and Recreation Plan.

“Jerry has done more than anyone else I can think of to help achieve those goals,” Blyth told the Selectboard.

She cited Wagener’s development of three different Open Space and Recreation Plans, each being multi-year endeavors, and the relationships he’s built with partner organizations in pursuit of land conservation. He’s shepherded projects at the town forest and Northfield State Forest, as well as conservation restrictions and agricultural preservation restrictions. Blyth also said Wagener has played a huge role in trail development, including at the Alderbrook Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary on Route 63.

Among the tangible fruits of Wagener’s labor are the trailhead kiosks — Blyth said he’s constructed at least half a dozen — and wooden trail markers, an example of which Wagener shared with the Selectboard last week. He also created trail brochures that can be found at the kiosks and helped develop a website devoted to the town’s trails, northfieldmasstrails.org.

“Thank you for all the work that you’ve done for Northfield,” Selectboard Chair Heath Cummings said to Wagener. He noted the popularity of the town’s well-marked trail system, and said Wagener helped “set up a great infrastructure for ecotourism, which is an industry that Northfield can be very proud of.”

Wagener is no stranger to town government, having also served on the Agricultural Commission, Planning Board and the Conservation Commission’s Stewardship Advisory Subcommittee since moving to Northfield in 2004. While not a member, he attended many meetings of the Community Park Committee. He has also been on the board of directors for the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, the Friends of Schell Bridge, the Greater Northfield Watershed Association and Neighbors at Home.

By the end of this year, Wagener plans to have stepped down from all his various board roles. When asked about retirement plans, he said he’s getting involved in new hobbies, such as building model bridges, and looks forward to spending more time with family, including his wife, Jean.

“I’m going to continue to do woodworking and I have some plans for this summer,” he said in a phone interview.

Reflecting on his time with the Open Space Committee, Wagener said he’s “especially enjoyed the trail work,” something he plans to continue to assist with even in retirement. In particular, he mentioned a project to make signs for the Mill Brook Wetlands Trail.

“Although I’m getting old and feeble now, I’ve told the committee … that I will be available for projects,” he told the Selectboard. “I really enjoyed the committee work. … It’ll be a fond memory for me, forever. Thank you very much for this award and I’ll keep working!”

Reach Shelby Ashline
at 413-772-0261, ext. 270 or sashline@recorder.com.


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy