Sep 26
"SOUTH HADLEY – About 40 residents gathered at Town Hall Wednesday to talk about the future of Route 47, a pastoral road with views of mountains and farmland that winds through South Hadley and Hadley. Relax, no big changes are happening there. Many of those attending the meeting echoed the sentiment of resident Stephen Carpenter, who said, “It’s one of the nicest spots we have, and I would hate to see something ruin it.” Among the purposes of the meeting was to find out what people do and don’t want, and whether the town could benefit from promoting farms, recreation and tourism on the corridor. A “management plan” for the route had been written in 1998, said Christopher Curtis of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, who organized the meeting with the help of the South Hadley Selectboard, and it was about time to update it. For those who didn’t realize what a treasure they had in their back yard, the meeting was full of information. Route 47 was named a National Scenic Byway in 2009. It has been a State Scenic Byway since 2000. Other facts that might not be commonly known are that the Mount Holyoke Range is one of only two east-west mountain ranges in the country (the other is in Utah) and that South Hadley once had a stagecoach stop on Route 47. Michael Lamontagne, tree warden for South Hadley, suggested that every school in town should take advantage of the corridor by arranging for kids to study its natural assets. He mentioned rare plant species at Silver Maple Swamp, native brook trout at Elmer Brook and the impressive rock formation known as Titan’s Pier. “It’s probably the best wildlife habitat in the area,” said resident June Carpenter. Wayne Buckhaut, one of the few businesses on the route, said lack of parking was a problem along the road and proposed adding shoulders for joggers and bicyclists. Buckhaut, who owns Cat’s Cradle, also cautioned that with more traffic comes more speed. He said there were not enough rangers to go around, and worried that an increase in hiking and other recreation might result in accidents for which the town would be held responsible. Other suggestions that came up in the course of the meeting included discreet signage, holiday activities at the farms, more vegetable production, a bike path and an adopt-a-trail program. The group planned to share the results of the meeting with the South Hadley Conservation Commission and with Hadley Selectmen. “The two towns should work together,” said State Representative John Scibak, who attended the meeting." View the article.