THE NORTHERN STRAND COMMUNITY TRAIL
Our most recent project is to fund the part-time salary of an executive director who will oversee the
construction phase of the first 1.5 mile section of the trail and build stronger relationships with local,
state, and national constituents, and strengthen the public perception of the organization. We feel that at
this crucial junction of the planning and construction phase, our organization needs the guidance and the
experience of a non-profit professional with experience in land use campaigns to move our organization
in a direction that will lead to the completion of the Northern Strand Community Trail.
Rail-trails or greenways offer local communities new recreational opportunities and commuting options.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has accepted a proposal to use the eleven-mile
Right of Way (ROW) of the Boston-Saugus commuter railway line for recreational purposes. For several
years, The Bike To The Sea organization has campaigned to create a trail on this ROW beginning at the
Everett-Somerville line on the Mystic River, and ending in Lynn, Massachusetts. When completed, it
will be named the Northern Strand Community Trail. It would provide a greenway for six urban
communities, and it would furthermore join the nature areas along the shore line to the urbanized areas of
Boston Metro-North. The trail would also link communities to major public transportation nodes such as
the MBTA Orange line mass-transit and commuter rail stations of Malden Center, Wellington, and
This project (the hiring of an Executive Director) addresses the challenge of advocating for a rail -trail
that traverses five Boston Metro-North suburbs. These communities contain small groups of supporters,
who on their own, have limited legislative influence over a multi-community effort toward completion of
the entire 12 mile trail. The Boston Metro-North region is plagued by a reliance on the car for most forms
of shopping and commuting. The Executive Director’s function is to educate the public and legislators of
the need for such a trail. For many residents, the trail is perceived as a recreational space, and do not
realize all of its other social benefits. For example, the existing ROW is adjacent to the section of
existing greenway that leads to the dam across the Mystic River. When this crossing is upgraded for
pedestrian use, a continuous link is created between four communities of Medford, Everett, Malden, and
the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston. A novice bike commuter could conceivably ride to work in
downtown Boston on a bike trail (see Bike-Paths map). Alternatively, a family in Somerville or
Cambridge could use the trail to safely visit natural areas such as the North Shore beaches and avoid the
major highways of Boston Metro-North. An Executive Director can also use daytime working hours to
meet with local and state government officials. This direct communication would hold officials
accountable to cities recreational and open-space agenda items and put pressure on officials to address
concerns in a timely fashion. Our organization has many capable people who have nine- to-five jobs. A
paid staff person would have the time to meet with city officials of the six Boston Metro-North
communities, representatives to state government, and state cabinet officials.
There is considerable awareness of the mission of our organization by the governments of Malden and
Everett. This October, Malden city councilors recommended that Mayor Howard sign a 99 year lease for
a 1.5 mile right-of-way with the MBTA. Everett has not yet made such a concrete commitment.
However, having one city approve a lease offers an incentive for others to do the same: The more
NEGEF Boston Grants Initiative Bike To The Sea 1
communities cooperate the more direct the linkage is to the conservation areas along the shore line.
If this project is successful the first three mile section of the Northern Strand Community Trail, extending
from the shore of the Mystic River to Main Street, Malden will begin construction. Many of the
remaining environmental and liability issues will be resolved. This will permit easier acceptance and
adoption of the entire trail by the towns of Revere, Lynn, and Saugus. A completed trail section will give
all stakeholders a chance to see the path being used by local residents. An Executive Director would
handle the necessary government and civic negotiations needed to acquire state and federal funding to
begin construction, seek out new organizational partners, new sources of revenue, and provide the
expertise to raise the public image of the organization.
9/1/2005 to 10/ 2005: Completion of a set of engineering plans of the first three miles of the rail trail
from the Everett-Somerville line to Malden Center.
10/4/05: The Malden City Council recommended to the Mayor the signing of a lease for a 1.5 mile
section of right-of-way between Medford Street and Main Street.
Present to 12/ 2006: Signing of a 99 year lease of ROW from the Boston MBTA by the Cities of
Everett and Malden.; Resolution of site contamination issues in Everett; investigate whether a Phase II
Hazardous Materials Assessment needs to be initiated. The negotiation between the Coleman
Manufacturing Co.; The Guilford Rail Co. and the MBTA must continue to resolve outstanding
contamination issues. (Gilford Rail used this line for freight cars). The advocacy for and passage of a bill
in the Massachusetts State House that would hold local communities blameless against lawsuits claiming
damages from environmental contamination of right of ways used for rail-trail conversions and limit
municipal liability for accidents on rail trails.
7/2006 to 1/ 2007: Preparation of an application to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and
assignment of a MassHighway project number. Submission of the application for the 1.3 million dollar
TEA-21 allocation secured by Congressman Edward Markey; Issue Environmental Notification Form;
Outreach to all five communities impacted by the trail
May 2007: Construction begins in Everett and Malden
Expenses Income In-kind Services
Salary of Executive Director
20/hrs week:$420/wk 8/2006
to 7/2007: $21,000 Suppl.
NEGEF Boston Grants Initiative $2500. Major Indiv.
Donations $ 5000 Foundation Grants: $13,500
Corporate gifts, 2500
Grant writing/research: $5000
Member advocacy: $5000
= $23,500 =$23,500 =10,000
Grants: REI 2005: $2000; NEGEF 2004: $1000; Mass DEM Rivers and Greenways Grant, 2000:
$5,000; Trails Grant: 2001: $5,000; GE Corp. grant: $25,000; Essex Heritage: $7500
Donations: Preotle, Lane Associates 2004: $17,500
NEGEF Boston Grants Initiative Bike To The Sea 2
1. The Bike to the Sea organization's primary mission is to advocate for the development of multi-use
trail from the Malden area to the North Shore beaches of Lynn and Revere Massachusetts. We also
promote bicycling and bicycle safety in Malden, Massachusetts and surrounding communities in
several ways: We sponsor social and pleasure rides along the New England coast, and we participate
in local bicycle fairs held by schools and civic groups; In addition, we advocate for safer streets and
more transportation options for local commuters.
2. The group was founded in 1992
3. At first, the group was primarily dedicated to leading rides from Malden, Massachusetts into the
surrounding areas, especially to local beaches. The signature event, "Bike To the Sea Day", has taken
place twelve times, drawing hundreds of families for a family ride to the beaches of Nahant
Massachusetts. When the opportunity of developing a rail-trail in this area arose, members were
enthusiastic because it would a safer way to travel to the beaches, and the Rumney Marsh. Several
major highways have a North-South orientation across the Metro-North communities of Revere,
Malden, Everett, and Saugus. The right of way created by a rail line permits much safer street and
4. It started out as a small group of fewer than 10 people. It has over 100 members today.
5. No. The group's founders have participated in Kiwanis Club and Rotary Club bike safety events.
The “founders’ today have made numerous presentations to local political and civic organizations
about the trail. The first “Northern Strand Community Trail Clean-Up Day” was held October 2005,
with REI sponsorship. Some members have also made presentations at public schools and Boys and
6. The Executive Committee currently has 15 members. We are divided between three main groups:
Membership, Finance, and Government Relations.
7. We have over 100 members
8. We have paid legal fees for legal services in regard to the ongoing ROW lease document between
local communities and the MBTA.
9. In addition to our membership we are supported by members of other environment organizations such
as The Saugus River Watershed Council, Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (MassBike), and The
Mystic River Watershed Council. Board members are from surrounding communities and have
personal ties with local government officials.
10. The Bike to the Sea organization has always had a local focus, trying to reach residents in the Boston
Metro-North area who want safe places for their children to ride bicycles, providing guided tours to
local nature reserves, and serving as a social group for individuals and families interested in the
physical and psychological benefits of outdoor recreation.
11. Steven Winslow Esq. worked for the Malden Redevelopment Authority in 2001, and ran for a
Malden School Committee seat. He ran on a “safe routes to school’ platform.
Dennis Robitaille was elected to the Saugus Town Meeting; Eileen Fay was a Malden City Council
member; Former president Mike Kelleher ran for Revere City Council; Marty Gately is a Malden
NEGEF Boston Grants Initiative Bike To The Sea 1
City Council member. He plans on running for Mayor in 2007
12. All five of the communities that the trail serves are urbanized suburbs. The latest state statistics show
a total population of 256,788, and an average population density of 9000 people per square mile. This
density is similar to Boston itself. The total land area of the adjoining communities is 44.06 square
miles. Of the local towns, only Lynn and Revere have the significant park land as a result of the
beaches that border the eastern edges of their cities. A rail trail not only offers more land for
recreation, but it also provides a literal corridor across several major highways and ending in the only
contiguous nature area in Boston Metro-North. In this area, while suburban in many respects, the
average income has lagged behind other Boston suburbs. The latest figures (1988) show an average
income of $25,200 per year. The town of Everett and Malden are particularly diverse.
13. The following groups have a direct interest in the Northern Strand Community Trail: Saugus Action
Volunteers for the Environment, Friends of the Mystic River, The Saugus River Watershed Council,
Friends of the Fells, Friends of the Everett Waterfront, Friends of Lynn Woods, Friends of Lynn and
Nahant Beach, Revere Beach Partnership, Malden Rotary Club, and the Everett Rotary Club. The
following groups have been resources and have provided advocacy and guidance to the organization:
Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (MassBike), The East Coast Greenway Alliance, and The Rails to
14. Our primary reference point has been the long term development of the Minuteman Trail that
traverses Somerville, Cambridge, Lexington, and Bedford. This trail took a decade to develop, but
today enjoys considerable success as a bike trail, but also as a recreational destination for pedestrians,
in-line skaters, and Nordic skiers. Bike To The Sea also sponsored a ride on the Providence East Bay
Trail this fall. Stephen Winslow has considerable experience in environmental clean-up.
15. Our organization has tried to maintain interest in the Northern Strand Community Trail in local
communities over the long term. Our most recent success was the award of a 2000-dollar grant by
REI to implement a trail clean-up. Furthermore, Malden City Council passed a motion to recommend
that mayor Howard sign a 99 year lease for the MBTA right. The organization has sponsored twelve
consecutive “Bike to the Sea Days”, and distributed helmets to local school children. Please see our
brochure for other organizational and fundraising landmarks.
16. The Boston Metro-North region does not have a strong base of supporters for environmental issues.
This is partly a result of a deeply engrained view of the automobile as a necessity of life. Also
citizens do not mobilize around concerns that do not directly affect their community. As the Northern
Strand Community Trail is a regional initiative, fewer people feel strongly about the benefits to
themselves. 2) In Massachusetts, half of all adults are estimated to be either overweight or obese.
The main causal factors of these figures are nutrition and exercise. The lack of adequate recreational
areas in the communities of Malden, Revere, Everett, Somerville, Medford and Lynn contribute to
these health risks. 3) The Boston Metro-North area has significant traffic congestion even though
there are important mass transportation nodes in this area that connect to Boston.
17. The organization has a need right now of an experienced non-profit leader who can organize the
diverse information from many different sources and be able to respond to requests for financial and
legal information promptly. Furthermore, a non-profit leader can create new partnerships with other
organizations that share our organizations goals. Grassroots organizing require a continuous effort to
unify public interest around critical social issues. Bike to the Sea needs assistance in communicating
a unified message to its local constituents, sending a clear message to local and state governments on
the importance of recreational corridors like the Northern Strand Community Trail.
NEGEF Boston Grants Initiative Bike To The Sea 2