Last Thursday the city held a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially celebrate the opening of the Upper Falls Greenway. It was a beautiful afternoon, a good sized crowd and every one was in a fine mood.
George Kirby from the Newton Bicycle Pedestrian Task Force, one of the prime movers behind the project, turned up with a bicycle full of engineer’s hats with the Greenway logo on them. He quickly sold out the dozens of hats he had but assured everyone that he had dozens more that he’ll be selling ($10) at Upper Falls Village Day this Sunday.
Tardiness seems to be the theme of the Greenway. This ribbon cutting ceremony was nearly a week ago and I’ve finally got around to posting something about it here. The Greenway path was laid down last spring and citizens have been using it in great numbers ever since but the ribbon cutting was just last week. The construction started two years ago and was only supposed to take two months. Instead it took two years due to the contractor running into trouble and walking away from the job.
Last Thursday none of that mattered. The only thing that matters now is that the city has a brand new park. A mile long walking trail that provides an off road connection between the neighborhood of Upper Falls and the stores on Needham St, provides a pleasant space for a daily walk for lots of neighbors and workers on Needham St, and provides a great safe place for young kids on bikes. The neighbors love it.
Hats off to all the people who stuck with it and made it happen. When the contractor left the city holding the bag both the mayor and the City Council were unwavering in their commitment to seeing the project through. Our three local councilors (Deb Crossley, John Rice, and Brian Yates) and the Upper Falls Area Council have been some of the biggest proponents and supporters from the start. Our local businesses stepped up with contributions and work-in-kind. The neighborhood and the Friends of the Greenway rallied around it with volunteer work of all kinds – tree planting, NewtonSERVES days, trash pickup, compiling material for the kiosks and more.
The city’s Dept of Public Works took over when the contractor walked away and did a great job. The Parks and Recreation Dept added lots of amenities to finish it off.
That many people coming together to make something happen is a beautiful thing to see.
There’s one more fun piece of the puzzle yet to come. In the coming weeks, two beautifully restored six foot high railroad switches will be installed. The 300 pound pieces of hardware were scooped up by a fast thinking volunteer (the mystery man) with an acetylene torch two years ago. He brought them to Newton North and the students in the auto shop restored the 100 year old rusted out pieces of railroad hardware. They’ve been rebuilt, sanded down, and re-painted so they look like they are brand new. DPW will be installing them on the trail sometime in October.
If you haven’t seen it yet, come on down to the corner of Oak and Chestnut St and go for a walk. Still to come – we’re planning on throwing a big mile lomg neighborhood party on the Upper Falls Greenway sometime in October – stay tuned.
(photo courtesy of Jim Lerner)