Community Preservation Committee OKs initial plan for Housatonic Riverwalk expansion
GREAT BARRINGTON — The town may soon see an extension to its popular Housatonic Riverwalk trail.
"The Riverwalk is one of the best things this town ever did," said Karen Smith, a member of the Community Preservation Committee.
Great Barrington Land Conservancy members Christine Ward and Will Conklin pitched the extension idea during a recent meeting of the preservation committee. The plan will meet the town's broader open space and transportation goals, Ward said.
The committee unanimously signed off on the initial plan, which represents the first step in the approval process. The next step will require a more detailed proposal and a presentation to a public meeting. If approved, the project will go to Town Meeting for final approval of Community Preservation Act funding.
The Riverwalk, built in 1987, ends at Bridge Street by the old Searles Middle School. Ward said the new trail would extend the walkway past the fairgrounds on the south end of town, veering away from the water.
"It's not a continuation of the Riverwalk trail as we have it," Ward said.
The committee was in favor of the project, although member Bill Nappo had some concerns about easements and rights of way.
Ward said the conservancy was working with the businesses and landowners along the route to ensure everyone will be happy with the trail.
The walkway extension would pass through grounds of Searles Castle, the fairgrounds, and behind businesses, with buffers on either side to allow for safety and privacy.
It would begin at the Railroad Street Youth Project building across Bridge Street from the end of the current trail and proceed to Brookside Road by Eisner Camp.
"It's mostly meadow along the trail way," Ward told the committee. "The trail will have views, but not be as close to the river."
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