How About A Nice Walk Around Norwood?
By Betsy Millane
What a treat it is to walk, jog, or bike a trail. The natural beauty of New England can be found in in the trails that skirt our towns.
What do the Norwood trails mean to you, I asked Marie Kidd.
“They meant an opportunity for the entire family to get out but stay local when Covid happened,” Kidd said.
Kidd has four kids and this is something they can all do.
“It was the reason to get off the phone,” Kidd continued.
John Muir described what a random stroll can do for the soul
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks,” Muir said.
It takes a special someone to recognize this, but to go further, to work to provide these nature opportunities for the good of all.
In Norwood, that person is Joe Greeley.
Greeley started working on improving and expanding local trails around Norwood five years ago. He does a lot of hiking himself, and realized that there has to be a way to engage the good people of Norwood to unwind in the woods for an hour or so.
It’s his quest to identify and improve short hike areas. He realized that a 45 minute walk on your lunch hour can make you more productive, calm, refreshed and able to tackle your job with a renewed vigor.
That is where Greeley and 10 committed volunteers that make up the Norwood Trails Advisory Board (NTAB) come in. The committee reports to the Town Manager and bridges gaps on the projects with the aim being to enhance the experience of the walkers.
Joe Greeley, Chairman
Lee Leach, Vice Chair
ex officio members: Tony Mazzucco, Norwood General Manager
Holly Jones, Norwood Conservation Planner
The NTAB mission statement is simple and to the point: Explore, Educate, Encourage.
“If you build it, they will come,” Greeley said.
There are currently 8 trails marked and maintained by the NTAB. Maps are available online: [email protected]
The committee gets the word out about the work needed on the trails, and volunteers come out to help. The trails need to be “reinvigorated” from time to time, and they need helpers to do just that.
The hikers and walkers are interested. How to find the volunteers? This past Norwood Day, about 400 people stopped by the booth and wanted information on how to help, trails to take, and where to go next.
In June, there will be a library presentation to address just that question and more. “1- Where we are in the trails, and 2- where we want to go next with programs.” Joe said.
Greeley recently met a young couple who were new to town who have a dog and kid and wanted advice on what would be the best experience for them They found their answer. A family with a member with mobility issues wanted a trail experience and Greeley was happy to advise them on an accessible one.
What are they working on now?
Greeley said they are working on 2-5 mile trails. He’d like to see a 20 mile route that would circle the town, “Our own emerald necklace”.
He’s also working on interacting with other trail committees to capitalize on their work to connect the existing trails.
How did he get interested in creating and maintaining trails?
On field trips through the West Roxbury YMCA as a 12-year old, he noted, but also on trips to the White Mountains with his family. His parents were outdoor people who fostered a love of camping and hiking and of nature. He feels it is his responsibility to share this love with others, acting as a bridge builder to them. “Leave it better than you found it” is his mantra.
The committee is dedicated to meeting once a month and devoted to community walks. They clean up invasive plants where they find them.
Once they held a walk and 75 people showed up, which was a wonderful and a positive surprise. People are always interested in knowing where to go next.
I asked how they deal with the doggie poo bag problem, a situation this writer often encounters on her walks.
Greeley graciously said they are on a mission to educate people to take care with their dog waste. The committee gives resources to the DPW to provide adequate trash opportunities for the dog waste. They also educate about pet etiquette, exhorting his fellow walkers with dogs to be “good neighbors” and clean up after their pets, use leashes, and train their dogs to return to the owners on command. The core of this is education and respect for the trails and others.
Greeley’s hosted, in this vein, about 15-20 trail clean ups. He’s always surprised by what they find, but did not divulge more. He only conveys the need for respect for open space. By getting the community involved, they teach people to pay attention to how to make the trails enjoyable to all. Again, it comes down to respect.
How does the committee raise funds for such initiatives?
The Women’s Community Committee, for example, pitched in and raised money needed to purchase a bench.
As I bicyclist, I wanted to know if these trails were bike friendly. He responded that they are trying to identify multi-use trails. They want to accommodate all who want to enjoy nature: those with walkers, wheelchairs, strollers, runners, and bikers. The aim is to keep the stress out of the excursion and to improve the experience for all.
For more information on Norwood Trails or the committee, visit www.norwoodma.gov/government/committees_boards/trails_advisory_committee or email [email protected]