North Adams looking for public input on new bike path proposal


NORTH ADAMS — City officials are looking for community feedback on the latest proposed bike path.

The city is working toward achieving 25 percent of the design on a path that stretches from at the city border with Williamstown near The Spruces to Airport Road at Harriman and West Airport in North Adams.

On Wednesday at 6 p.m., the city will host a community meeting at City Hall to provide updates and details on the proposal from city officials, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission staff, and project engineer Greenman-Pedersen Inc.

The meeting will conclude with a question-and-answer session.

The mile-long stretch of path, which would include a crossing of Route 2, meanders west of Chenaille Terrace before cutting east on the north side of the Harriman and West Airport runway.

Ultimately, the city's goal is to have a bike path that stretches from the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail in Adams all the way into Williamstown.

"It's one way of bringing path into the city, and eventually we do want to bring it downtown and connect with Adams," said Community Planner Larysa Bernstein.

By achieving 25 percent design on the western stretch of the trail, Mayor Richard Alcombright said the city would catch up with Williamstown's progress and "these projects can then literally move side by side to full design and construction."

"I think it's a wonderful community asset," Alcombright said.

Alcombright believes the state Department of Transportation is committed to funding the remaining design work and then construction of the bike path, which would begin in July 2019 and be completed in 2021. Thus far, the city has allotted $160,000 of its state highway aid to the first 25 percent of design.

Though it won conditional support from the Airport Commission earlier this month, the proposed path has raised concerns in previous public meetings from the residents on Chenaille Terrace, where the path would run about 100 to 150 feet behind several homes.

But city officials have been quick to point out their efforts to mitigate neighbors concerns, including through natural screening with vegetation and privacy fences.

"The city's going to do everything they can to make the path beneficial for everyone," Bernstein said.

Although have been several public meetings and will be more, the decision on the proposed path is ultimately an administrative one, according to Alcombright.

"It's an administrative decision, but this is something that we've vetted quite publicly through the planning process over that period of time," Alcombright said.

Should the city move forward and continue to the next phase of design, there will be additional public hearings throughout the process.

"There's still a lot of planning that needs to be done," Bernstein said.

The path has been decades in the making — the concept for a bike path was proposed by Williamstown and North Adams officials as far back as 1968.

The stretch of the path in Williamstown is approximately 2.5 miles.

Bernstein launched a new website this month that serves as a hub for all things bike-path related, included maps and documents related to the proposal. The site can be accessed by visiting the city's web site and clicking the "Proposed Bike Path" link in the center of the page.

Reach staff writer Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376 or @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter


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