City Accessibility Improvement Projects

Accessible Outdoor Trails & Recreation 

There are 13.6 miles of universally accessible trails in the City. Opportunities for new unpaved trails are continually being assessed and are included in new projects and retrofits wherever opportunities exist. 

The City is working on the development of a soft-surface accessible trail at the Pine Grove section of the Rocky Hill Greenway in conjunction with ecological restoration of the former golf course.   

Phase 1: Out and back trail from Old Wilson Road. Anticipated construction beginning late 2023.

Phase 2: Small accessible parking lot and loop trail. Design and engineering beginning 2023.  

City Accessibility Improvement Projects 

The City updated its ADA & Self-Evaluation Plan and Section 504 Plan (2020). This plan looked at the polices and infrastructure regarding disability access in the City, making 10 priority recommendations.  A glossary of ADA terms may be helpful for people to familiarize themselves with accessibility and the ADA.

The City has also committed to accessible recreation areas and transportation going beyond ADA standards:

  • Recreation facilities (see Parks and Recreation Department)
  • Shared use paths (13 miles of trails that are accessible) - full map is forthcoming
  • Universal accessible trails in conservation areas (e.g. Connecticut River Greenway access to the river, Fitzgerald Lake Greenway access to the lake, Barrett Street Marsh access to a boardwalk in the marsh, Mill River Greenway-Leeds with an extension of the bike path into the conservation area, and Burts Bog Greenway with a paved trail into a previously inaccessible greenway).

City Accessibility Grants 

In 2021, the City of Northampton received two grants to improve accessibility in the city, $95,710 from the Massachusetts Office of Disabilities and $15,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards.

The $95,710 grant will fund assisted listening systems at the City Hall Hearing Room, City Council Chambers, and the Great Room at the Senior Center. Assisted listening systems will provide enhanced sound for all, and accommodations for those with hearing loss and impairments. A $2,000 match from the city’s disability revolving fund, funded by fines from parking in handicap-accessible parking spaces without proper tags, helped leverage this grant.

The $15,000 grant will fund a study of how to improve accessibility to the city’s Connecticut River Greenway, especially to the new beach there that formed just a few years ago. The city saw a dramatic increase in public use of river swimming areas, including at the Connecticut River Greenway. This project will help the city manage the use to serve all populations. The project is in conjunction with a larger Community Preservation Act funded project to examine five river swimming areas, four on the Mill River and one on the Connecticut River.

Both projects were recommended during the City’s Americans with Disabilities Transition planning and were recommended by the City’s Disability Commission.