Celebrating 25 years, sharing vision for future at national summit

Seventy members, trustees, and friends of the East Coast Greenway Alliance gathered in Providence, Rhode Island, in mid-November for our annual State of the Greenway Summit. The meetings also launched our yearlong celebration of the Greenway’s founding 25 years ago.
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A brisk, breezy ride along the East Bay Bike Path began the weekend for 20 or so Summit attendees. Here, ride leader Betty Bourret talks to cyclists about the George Redman Linear Park on the Washington Bridge.

A brisk, breezy ride on the East Bay Bike Path and a walk from India Point Park kicked off the weekend. At an evening reception at Small Point Cafe, Janet Coit welcomed guests to the Ocean State. Coit, director of the state’s Department of Environmental Management, shared news of the recent passage of a $35-million Green Economy Bond, which will set aside $10 million to complete portions of 15 dedicated bike routes around the state, including segments of the East Coast Greenway.

Saturday’s meetings at the University of Rhode Island’s Providence campus featured panel sessions with cofounders sharing stories of the ECGA’s earliest days. Cofounder Pat King remembered how the people who helped found the organization in the fall of 1991 each brought unique resources. “Some people, like Karen [Votava, who went on to become the first executive director] and Dave [Lutz], were in governmental positions, some of us between jobs. We had the same vision, we pooled our ideas together, and it all just clicked.”

Board Chair Bob Spiegelman, former Chair Chuck Flink, and Executive Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano share thoughts on the Greenway's recent history and future vision.

Board Chair Bob Spiegelman, former Chair Chuck Flink, and Executive Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano share thoughts on the Greenway’s recent history and future vision.

A later panel featured recent board chairs and Executive Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano sharing more recent history and their vision for the future. “Twenty-five years from now, I’d like to think our focus will have moved from building to maintaining the Greenway,” said Board Chair Robert Spiegelman. Asked what surprised him, former board chair and current advisory board chair Chuck Flink said it was how quickly people embraced the East Coast Greenway vision. “We had mayors and others coming to us about the route because they wanted the Greenway to come through their town.”

Markatos-Soriano opened the members’ meeting with highlights of 2016. The organization experienced a dramatic recent growth in capacity, he noted, including the addition of new staff and a 50 percent increase in our base of volunteers and social media followers, thanks to record media attention this past year.

The annual members’ meeting included the approval of a new Board of Trustees member, Don Miller, of Pennsylvania. Miller is a retired pharmaceutical marketing executive, an adjunct engineering professor, and avid cyclist. We thanked two board members, Elizabeth Brody and Al Nierenberg, as they finished their terms. Brody served on our board for 12 years and was a key leader of the New York and New Jersey state committees. Nierenberg served for two terms, or six years, and helped lead our strategic planning process.

Walking the walk: A handful of our staff checked out the Woonasquatucket River Greenway behind our New England office. From left: Andy Hamilton, Mid-Atlantic Coordinator; Niles Barnes, Director of Greenway Programs; Kathryn Zeringue, South Atlantic Coordinator; and Molly Henry, New England Coordinator. Thanks to Molly for coordinating much of the logistics for the 2016 Summit in Providence.

Walking the walk: A handful of our staff checking out the Woonasquatucket River Greenway behind our New England office Providence, RI. From left: Andy Hamilton, Mid-Atlantic Coordinator; Niles Barnes, Director of Greenway Programs; Kathryn Zeringue, South Atlantic Coordinator; and Molly Henry, New England Coordinator. Thanks to Molly for coordinating much of the logistics for the 2016 Summit in Providence.

ECGA regional coordinators presented updates on trail development and events, highlighting key projects in each area. Click to view the presentations:

Browse photos from Friday’s bike ride and reception

Browse photos from Saturday’s meeting and presentations

Pictured at top, 25 years of East Coast Greenway Alliance leadership: Board Chairs Chuck Flink, Dave Dionne, Pat King (founding chair), Dave Read, and Bob Spiegelman (current chair) gathered at the national State of the Greenway Summit in Providence, RI.

This story originally appeared in our November 2016 On the Greenway newsletter. Read more from the newsletter.