In response to krm’s review, Springfield Riverwalk advocates acknowledge that he has identified many of the trail’s problems: isolation, a sense of entrapment, ugliness, litter, trash and confrontations with members of the urban underclass. I am grateful to him for describing what he saw and experienced, because his review, coming from an outside observer, will be useful in shaming public officials into solving these problems, all of which have been repeatedly brought to their attention over the past three years.
I do wonder, however, whether his walks took him over all 3.7 miles of the trail from the Chicopee line all the way to the south terminus. I say this because the problems he describes exist in the middle of the Riverwalk around Clinton Street and to a lesser extent south of Riverfront Park, but do not exist north of the Clinton Street pumping station, between there and the Chicopee line. This section, accessible via the grade crossing at the North End Bridge (Route 20 or West Street), at Plainfield Street and elsewhere on Riverside Road, is well-maintained and borders a quiet, pleasant residential neighborhood.
So I cannot agree though with krm’s solution which is to take down the signs leading to it and caution visitors not to use the Riverwalk. That is, to abandon it. First of all, the Springfield Riverwalk constitutes 3.7 miles smack in the middle of the Connecticut River Walk and Bikeway, a projected 21 mile regional trail. The Riverwalk exists; it is paid for, and even were it to be abandoned, it would remain a trouble spot for the foreseeable future. A better answer is that the city and the region step up to challenges the Riverwalk presents today, and by solving them, turn this ugly duckling into the handsome swan it was meant to be.