Friday, October 16, 2009

Peabody Independence Greenway, Newburyport Solar Program, Green Farms


New Rail Trail for Bicyclists and Walkers in Peabody Completed

As an organization that has devoted valuable time and precious resources to the development of rail trail activity in this region over recent years, Essex Heritage applauds the City of Peabody for their recent Rail Trail development accomplishments. Mayor Michael Bonfanti officially opened Peabody’s Independence greenway for use yesterday with a ribbon cutting ceremony at Ross Park in West Peabody. What the City of Peabody has accomplished in such a relatively short period of time is amazing. The concept of developing a Rail Trail for this community with its wonderful combination of residential and commercial uses was only conceived a short two decades ago in a city master plan created in 1990. From the planning process to completion and use by the residents of Peabody in such a relatively short period of time is quite an accomplishment. The city moved from the planning stage that took the better part of a decade to the acquisition of the abandoned railway right of way and then the start of actual construction just a short three years ago. It appears that one of the keys to the success of this project was the various sources of funding that were acquired to complete the project. The city committed money raised from their Community Preservation Act funding to complete the trail design and then sought and received funding from the Federal and State governments for the more than $3.0 million in funding needed to complete the project. The Massachusetts Highway Authority has overseen construction and will ultimately turn the trail over to the City of Peabody when all of the work is completed.

The soon to be completed Peabody Independence Greenway now allows Peabody residents to travel 4.6 miles from the North Shore Shopping Center near the Leahy Clinic up into West Peabody along a paved way that moves along through woodlands and scenic views that opens up almost 400 acres to residents of the City. Travel for the most part can be accomplished safely with out the worry of vehicular traffic. There is a small stretch of the trail that has an on street connection. The City is already contemplating how the trail can be connected into the neighboring community of Salem and beyond where other trails exist. If one were willing to look into the future there might come a time when cyclists could ride in the State from the New Hampshire border deep into the coastal North Shore region.

Essex Heritage has and continues to play a coordinating role in the Border to Boston Trail program that will open up a rail trail in the future from Salisbury to Danvers. Some of that Trail is presently open and a section in Topsfield will open this coming weekend. We can only hope that some of the participants in the Border to Boston venture can learn from the Peabody experience and can envision what can be accomplished when a community decides to move forward with a single purpose. The recreational experience in Peabody is now much more expansive and the safety of cyclists in the community is protected. Once again, Essex Heritage offers its congratulations to Mayor Bonfanti and the other associated municipal officials who played a role in this project for what they have accomplished for their community and the region.

More Green News

In recent postings we have been noting activities in the region that positively affect the environment as those actions can be so important to the future. I noticed a recent announcement by the Town of Newburyport that will have such an impact. The Town and an energy services company, Ameresaco Inc. recently unveiled a solar power system that will supply power to several town buildings. The system that the Town is touting as the largest municipal solar project of its kind in the State will supply power to a public middle school and to the department of Public Works Building in town. In addition to providing power to the school, the project will also provide and educational experience for all of the students who attend the Nock Middle School. Weather and solar power production information will be provided to the students and that information will be used by the teachers and analyzed by the students in the classrooms at the school. This seems to be a wonderful use of solar power that serves both municipal needs and the students in the community.

Many Farms in the Region Seeking Green Solutions to Success

In a recent story in the Boston Globe, North Edition reporter Cathy McCabe authored a comprehensive story about the efforts of many farmers in the Essex County agricultural community who are employing eco friendly strategies to assure continuing success. The story noted the efforts of many in this region to use “green techniques” to help them continue to be relevant. The report noted the use of yard use that is being turned into compost and then recycled for a profit by Essex Heritage Commissioner Bill Clarke an eighth generation farmer at his farm in Danvers. It also highlighted the use of wind power and solar that is being tested for use at other farms in Newburyport, Amesbury and Salisbury in the region. It seems certain that in the not too distant future that more and more of the farmers in this region will continue to explore new eco-strategies to stay profitable, and in that way preserve the current farming acres in the region as open, contributing and valuable space. It seems reasonable to assume that more and more green strategies will be employed in this region by the agricultural community in the years ahead,

As always, your comments, observation and questions about the work of Essex Heritage are welcome. Please contact me click here at or call 978 720 0444. Thanks. Tom Leonard

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