Controversial Bike Path Discussed In Chicopee
CHICOPEE, Mass (WGGB) — A new bike path could be on the way to Chicopee, but not without a fight. The proposed Connecticut Riverwalk and Bikeway Project was the topic of a crowded meeting Wednesday night.
“Practically everyone here is against this and nobody has brought that up, that we are against this,” neighbor Michelle Pirog said to the project panel, including members of the Department of Transportation that would build the walkway. “We don’t want this go through, and so how do we address that?”
A loud applause came from the crowded room after Pirog posed the question.
“Somebody has to maintain it, graffiti has to be taken care of, benches have to be maintained,” another neighbor said.
Frustrated residents continued to vocalize their concerns the idea. The proposed $3 million, 2.4 mile bike path would run from the Medina Street boat ramp to Ferry Street and Nash Field. It’s all part of regional goal to connect to other walks in Springfield, Agawam, and downtown Chicopee near the Chicopee River.
“In the near future we could see these two segments connect and become sort of an internal city network,” Planner and Administrator for the City of Chicopee Community Development Office Lee Pouliot said. “Something that we don’t have yet from a bike and pedestrian perspective.”
HUD grants paid for the project design and it’s slated state funding in 2016. Some residents say it would bring new recreation, increased activity, and a better neighborhood use.
“You can’t believe the amount of people that walk here now, constantly all summer with their dogs,” neighbor Kevin Corley said. “It’s basically people walking their dogs but I think kids will be out here with their bicycles and tricycles.”
Some folks, however, say it could bring some negative impacts to the neighborhood, namely potential crime and vandalism.
“I’m concerned for my safety and for my property and I’m also concerned for people who walk on the dike,” Pirog said.
Pouliot said that the city would be meeting with new Police Chief Bill Jebb to discuss potential emergency boxes along the walk, bike patrols, and other safety measures. As with most other walks in other towns, there would not be nighttime lighting and it would be closed after dusk.
The project needs a secured right of way that meets state standards. The city has put their support behind the project and would have to maintain it after the state builds it. Panelists on Wednesday said that contacting the city to express residents’ viewpoints would be the only way to stop the project at this point, but that anyone who wants their comments on the record and in public documentation can write to DOT at:
Patricia A. Leavenworth, P.E.
10 Park Plaza