By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Northborough – As part of Northborough's “Building a Healthy Northborough” initiative, the town is partnering with WalkBoston, a nonprofit organization working to make walking safer and easier in Massachusetts to encourage better health, a cleaner environment and vibrant communities.
With annual funding from Mass in Motion (part of the Mass. Department of Health), Town Planner Kathy Joubert has worked with WalkBoston to develop three walking routes for the town of Northborough. Originally, the project started with Joubert, Board of Health Agent Jamie Terry, Recreation Director Michelle Lyseth, and Director of Family & Youth Services Sandra Peters.?Currently, all of the schools, the Northborough after School Program, many restaurants (Northborough's healthy food establishment initiative), and the Trails Committee are all involved.
“WalkBoston focuses on getting people outside and walking on sidewalks,” said Joubert. “We planned the routes in town around the emphasis on using sidewalks. I initially selected the routes due to their scenic quality and varied distances.?The routes are not physically marked on the streets, but the maps are easy to follow.?We hope to add some signage in the near future which would relate to historic features, distance walked, and perhaps how many calories used to walk a certain distance.?Maps are available in the Town Hall, the library, the senior center and on the town's website.”
Since the initial funding in 2008, the town has received three years of implementation funding.
In her comments to the Board of Selectmen in May, Joubert said, “We have been successful, as is evidenced by the announcement by the commissioner of public health at the end of last summer showing that BMI (body mass index) rates have started to decrease in Northborough. We are one of the first four Mass in Motion communities that can boast this accomplishment.”
Joubert said that, going forward, the Building a Healthy Northborough initiative will focus on healthier food options at the schools, maintaining community gardens, increasing the number of local restaurants offering healthy food options, incorporating the new trail at the aqueduct, and, possibly, creating a rail trail with other communities.
“We have had major successes and look forward to building upon these successes as we move forward,” said Joubert.
The three Northborough walks include:
Downtown: Hudson and Main (40 minutes)
This two-mile loop connects the area near Edmunds Hill Woods and Memorial Field with Northborough's central business district. Starting on Hudson Street and Main Street, head north on Hudson, turn right on Allen Street, then bear right on E. Main Street. Continue on Main Street back to downtown.
Downtown: Summer, School, and South (15 minutes)
This three-quarter-mile loop includes the downtown area, Assabet Park and several historic Victorian houses. Starting at Main Street and School Street, head south on School. Turn right on Summer, right on South Street, and right again on Main Street.
Ellsworth-McAfee Neighborhood (40 minutes)
This two-mile loop covers a mostly residential area in the southern section of Northborough, west of Route 135. The loop is flanked by Proctor Elementary School to the northwest and Ellsworth-McAfee Park to the southeast. From Proctor, head east on Northgate and turn right on South Street. Turn right on Emerson Street, right again on Thoreau, left on Chesterfield, and right at Northgate.
To learn more about the Building a Healthy Northborough initiative, visit healthynorthborough.org?. To learn more about WalkBoston, visit walkboston.org. To learn more about Mass in Motion, visit mass.gov/massinmotion?.