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Friends of the Dedham Heritage Rail Trail
Michael Cocchi, MD
Michael is a critical care and emergency medicine physician, clinical researcher, and a representative of the Dedham Town Meeting; he is committed to a bright and healthy future for Dedham and its residents. Michael first learned about the Friends of the Dedham Heritage Rail Trail in the fall of 2015 and immediately became involved in the project. As a parent of two small children, and also as a health professional, he recognizes the importance of establishing safe opportunities for physical activity for persons of all ages and abilities; the development of this rail trail would create a beautiful outdoor space for just this purpose.
John Dashe, MD
John is a neurologist and avid cyclist. He lives in Dedham with his wife and three teenagers. He enjoys rail-trails and looks forward to cycling across America someday, but not before the inaugural ride of the Dedham Heritage Rail Trail!
Margaret Matthews and her family have lived in Dedham for over 30 years. She has been involved with the Town for many years, serving on the School Committee, leading the effort to get the new Avery School built and new High School fields installed, and is now a Town Meeting Member. She got involved with the Friends of the DHRT after hearing the Feasibility Study results, and learning of the extraordinary financial opportunity to use state and federal funding to construct the park and trail. Margaret is dedicated to responsible development and asset management in the Town of Dedham. She is interested in restoring this piece of public land from its current forgotten and neglected condition to a tranquil and beautiful use again. She believes this is a win/win for everyone—landscaping and extra trees for beauty and privacy, a flat path for everyone from young students to seniors, and restoring a transportation corridor that perpetuates the natural link between Dedham, Boston and beyond.
Mary Jane Parnell
Mary Jane joined the Dedham Heritage Rail Trail effort on opening day of Dolan Park as an outdoor enthusiast and Dedham resident of 21 years. Having biked many of the trails throughout the state, she has witnessed the positive rewards of businesses and residents. She owns a small business in the gardening industry and is passionate about creating open spaces for recreational use and preserving wildlife habitat. Her background includes 25 years of business management in technology and insurance where she learned the importance of negotiation, fair play and teamwork. Having started her business after retirement, she understands the challenges of starting a new initiative and the need to bring groups together for the greater good of the community. Her goal for the Dedham Heritage Rail Trail is to help restore and turn this abandoned trail into an open space opportunity that will provide better health and safety for all ages of Dedham residents.
Paul moved to Dedham nearly thirty years ago with his new bride Janet, where they raised their three boys Joshua, Benjamin and Nathaniel. In 2008, Paul was elected to the Board of Selectman, and re-elected again in 2011. While Selectman he helped launch the Oakdale Square Alliance, Mother Brook Arts & Community Center, and the Dedham Library Innovation Team. He was also responsible for founding the Dedham Little Free Library Project resulting in ten mini-lending libraries installed across town, and the Dedham Public Art Project, which populated Dedham with 15 five-foot crouching rabbit sculptures painted by community artists.
When not entrenched in all things Dedham, Paul serves as CEO of the award-winning educational media firm FableVision co-located at the Boston Children’s Museum, and is in his 28th year teaching at Boston College. As an avid advocate of Dedham’s natural resources, Paul Reynolds has worked to realize the vision for open space outlined in the Town’s Master Plan, and is excited about being able to walk and bike the proposed Dedham Heritage Rail Trail.
Clarissa has been a resident of Dedham for 5 years and is a local educator, business owner, artist and advocate for progressive plans which will improve the town she now calls home. Clarissa is very enthusiastic about the movement of the Dedham Heritage Rail Trail, so much so that she designed the DHRT logo last year! Clarissa is also a direct abutter to the proposed trail. Her hopes, along with those of her young son and energetic dog, Penny, are to be gifted a beautiful, safe way to move around the neighborhood and connect to the rest of the community. One of the biggest perks would be for a safe route to the strip of schools located a few blocks away, which her son will be attending very soon. Another positive of the rail trail becoming reality would be the elimination of the undesirable activities currently in place right behind Clarissa's home, which are heightened by the unkempt area. The transformation of the path will be one of increased accessibility, safety, and enjoyment for residents of all ages and abilities.
Georganna brings a background of 30+ years of ongoing work in the environmental field and nonprofit community - from driving a recycling truck for 20 of those years to grant writing, to event planning. She is also a Town Meeting representative for Precinct 6. Georganna founded the Friends of the Dedham Heritage Rail Trail community group and serves as volunteer coordinator and "plate spinner." In doing so, she has met hundreds of amazing Dedham residents of all ages who enthusiastically support the project and want to see their home of Dedham join the 70+ other towns from Agawam to Yarmouth, that have found out how great it is to have a rail trail in their community.