Mutter’s Field Trail Highlights the Importance of Accessibility for Open Space Projects

Accessibility is an increasingly important element of recent CPA projects, highlighting the integral community building aspect of the program. Many communities are working hard to ensure that any resident, regardless of disabilities, has the opportunity to participate and enjoy the benefits of CPA projects. In the town of Easthampton, the newly-opened Mutter’s Field Trail is a shining example of an open space project designed with accessibility in mind.

Mutter's Field Accesible TrailOriginally acquired in 2012 by the Passcommuck Land Trust (PCT), Mutter’s Field, named after the previous owners of the property, is a 6-acre parcel of land consisting of a large meadow surrounded by woods and two small brooks. The PCT, active in protecting and preserving open space since 1982, applied for a recreational trails grant from DCR and proposed an accessible trail that could be designed for visitors of all abilities and ages to enjoy. Marty Klein, a longtime board member who stewarded the project from its inception, explained how due to the property’s proximity to local neighborhoods, “the location was ideal—it would connect the trails between the two properties and also allow access to the woods.”

Over the years, the PCT has partnered with Easthampton’s Community Preservation Committee several times in order to preserve open space in Easthampton. Both the 6-acre parcel at the East Street-Donais project and the 22 acres of woodland and riverfront property at Pomeroy Meadows were preserved by the PCT by utilizing CPA funds. Klein acknowledged the importance of Community Preservation Act with the success of the Mutter’s Field Trail project, stating that “we couldn’t have done it without CPA. It was a huge boost.” A total of two CPA grants totaling $227,000 allowed for the project’s completion.

Mutter's Field Trail Opening in November 2016The grand opening of the Mutter’s Field Trail took place in October of 2016, attended by local officials, community members, and the previous owner of the land, 100-year-old Alice Mutter. The finished trail is comprised of an 1800-foot loop around two acres of tree-lined meadows with striking views of Mt. Tom in the distance. Designed to be wildlife friendly and a model of sustainability, the property includes raised beds, pollinator-friendly gardens, native plantings, and nesting boxes to attract bluebirds, tree swallows, and wrens. In addition, the property also contains wheelchair-friendly parking, benches, and picnic tables, as well as trails that provide access for wheelchair users and walkers alike. These elements ensure that any visitor will be able to enjoy the natural beauty of the hills, meadows, and forests of the Connecticut River Valley.

“Even before it was finished, the Mutter’s Field Trail was warmly embraced by all members of the community,” Klein describes. “Mothers with strollers, seniors, and people of all ages and abilities came out to walk the trail loop. It’s a wonderful asset for the neighborhood and surrounding community.”