It is particularly thrilling to see Conway projects make their way past the conceptual stage and on to implementation. Such is the case with The Lake Wallace Sensory Trail, a proposed fully-accessible trail in Belchertown, Massachusetts. Alumni Andrew Kilduff  ’17 and Tim Tensen ’17, working as their firm TK.designlab, recently partnered with the Belchertown Planning Department and Patronicity in an effort to raise $28,000 towards the construction of the first phase of the project. Mass Development, the organization overseeing the redevelopment of the former Belchertown State School where Lake Wallace is located, has offered to match their funds dollar-for-dollar (for a total of $56,000) through the Commonwealth Campaign program—if they reach their fundraising goal.

Town Planner Doug Albertson, Tim Tensen ’17 (in red cap), and ecologist Glenn Motzkin during a site visit and ecological consultation.

The concept for the Lake Wallace Sensory Trail evolved from a Conway design project in spring of 2017 originally taken on by alumni Amanda Mackay ’17 and Andrew. Their proposed design, the Belchertown Trails Master Plan, explored the potential for accessible trails on the former state school site, including historical walks and learning trails. That project continued in the summer of 2017 when the planning department requested a design study focused on Lake Wallace specifically, and emphasized engaging key stakeholders who would support trail development. To support this request an extensive outreach process, including dozens of stakeholder interviews and a public exhibition, contributed vital knowledge and answered critical questions regarding who would use the trail or contribute resources to maintain it. This information fed the design process which reflected the community’s desire for an accessible trail that provides a venue for outdoor education and recreation. The trail system around Lake Wallace was designed in accordance with Mass Audubon all-persons trail guidelines, emphasizing inclusivity of individuals who experience sensory or mobility limitations. Key features of the trail system are wayfinding and sensory elements like a rope guide system, and material changes or sound cues to more fully engage visitors.

When complete, the Lake Wallace Trail System will feature 3,800 feet of accessible trails, 2,400 of which will be the Sensory Trail, an outdoor classroom and amphitheater, interpretive signs guiding visitors around the site, and over 2,800 feet of woodland trails. The design incorporates the larger Belchertown planning initiative to support a more sustainable and walkable community. Trails support this idea in part as economic generators that can enhance the economic vitality of the town, improve quality of life for residents, and increase the number and availability of accessible recreational and educational opportunities. Read more about the full design study The Learning Landscape.

Visit the Lake Wallace Sensory Trail fundraising campaign page at Patronicity to show your support!

Image at top: A glimpse of the proposed design layout and learning station setup.


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