The Recorder – Longtime Northfield Open Space Committee Member Jerry Wagener Honored

Published: 04/10/2022 12:22:42

Modified: 04/10/2022 12:21:31

NORTHFIELD — As Jerry Wagener prepares to retire from the Open Space committee when his term expires in June, his fellow committee members have chosen a parting gift in the form of the 2021 Citizen Stewardship Award.

Wagener, 84, who has been a member of the Open Space Committee since its inception in 2006 and chaired for 13 years, received the award at a Selectboard meeting last week.

According to Open Space Committee Chair Julia Blyth, the award has been given since 2007 “to recognize someone who is an excellent steward of the city’s natural resources” and helps achieve the goals of the Open Space Plan and Recreation.

“Jerry has done more than anyone I can think of to help achieve these goals,” Blyth told Selectboard.

She cited Wagener’s development of three different open space and recreation plans, each of which are multi-year efforts, and the relationships he has built with partner organizations in pursuit of land conservation. He has led projects in the City Forest and Northfield State Forest, as well as Conservation Restrictions and Agricultural Preservation Restrictions. Blyth also said Wagener has played a huge role in trail development, including at the Alderbrook Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary on Route 63.

Among the tangible fruits of Wagener’s labor are trailhead kiosks — Blyth said he’s built at least half a dozen — and wooden markers, an example of which Wagener shared with the Selectboard last week. . He has also created trail brochures for kiosks and helped develop a city trails website, northfieldmastrails.org.

“Thank you for all the work you have done for Northfield,” selection committee chairman Heath Cummings told Wagener. He noted the popularity of the town’s well-marked trail system and said Wagener had helped “establish excellent infrastructure for ecotourism, which is an industry of which Northfield can be very proud.”

Wagener is no stranger to city government, having also served on the agricultural commission, planning board and stewardship advisory subcommittee of the conservation commission since moving to Northfield in 2004. Although he is not a member, he attended many meetings of the community park committee. He has also served on the board of Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, Friends of Schell Bridge, Greater Northfield Watershed Association and Neighbors at Home.

By the end of this year, Wagener expects to have stepped down from all of his various roles on the board. Asked about his retirement plans, he said he was taking up new hobbies, such as building model bridges, and was looking forward to spending more time with his family, including his wife, Jeans.

“I will continue to work with wood and I have plans for this summer,” he said in a telephone interview.

Looking back on his time on the Open Spaces Committee, Wagener said he “especially enjoyed working on the trails,” something he plans to continue helping even in retirement. He mentions in particular a signage project for the Mill Brook Wetlands Trail.

“Although I am getting old and weak now, I have told the committee… that I will be available for projects,” he told the Selectboard. “I really liked the work of the committee. … It will be a good memory for me, forever. Thank you very much for this award and I will continue to work!

Reach Shelby Ashline at 413-772-0261, ext. 270 or [email protected]

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