FNRT Minutes, July 19, 2017

Condensed from draft minutes

Board Attendees: Alex Bernhard, George Heaton, Myra Mayman, Peter Southworth, Nita Tomaszewski

Guest: Prescott Towle (Epsom)

Reports and Routine Business:

The Minutes of the June meetings were approved without amendment.

The Treasurer’s Report – submitted in advance by Steve Darling, who was not in attendance – was unanimously accepted. Much-appreciated grants from the Brown Foundation and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation were received during the last month. These funds, with others, make possible the many current and future projects for Trail maintenance and improvement.

Progress in Current Trail Projects:

Mowing. As of the meeting date, mowing along the Trail had been commenced. Some discussion focused on new mowing approaches, the need to complete the mowing earlier next year and to limit the cost.

Vegetation Control. The vegetation control operation along a 7-mile, overgrown section of the Trail in Franklin has been successfully completed by Prescott Towle of Invasive Weed Control, Epsom.

The planned experiment with goats to control poison ivy has not yet begun, but an appropriate site near Highland Lake in Andover has been discussed with the goat-farmer, and we are hopeful that this experiment can be implemented this summer.

Bridge and Culvert Maintenance. The several bridge and culvert maintenance projects authorized in past meetings (Blackwater Park, East Andover culverts, and three Andover bridges) are actively moving forward, though not yet completed. Peter Southworth and Chris Norris are in contact with contractors in order to ensure good progress.

New and Renewed Initiatives:

Signage. The continued need for good signage – locational and historic – was again recognized as essential to a happy Trail experience, particularly for new users. Recent correspondence from a first-time bicyclist confirmed this: expressing great enjoyment of the Trail, but some frustration with gaps in signage. Three initiatives address the issue.

The value of signs to connect the NRT-MC with others was recognized. Alex Bernhard proposed the installation of a sign on the Trail in West Franklin to connect with the “Winni Trail.” Up to $500 was authorized for this purpose. The sign will be designed and put in near the Congregational Church in West Franklin by Steve Rayno and others.

The good work undertaken by the “signage committee” before Heather Deardorff’s departure needs to be continued, as it will lead to both historic and locational markings. Alex Bernhard will discuss the current situation and future plans with Jack Shields and Ed Hiller.

To improve Trail parking areas, George Heaton and Steve Robinson painted a sign, and installed a box and informational materials in Danbury Center.

Branch and Brush Encroachment. Although the current mowing and vegetation control operations keep the Trail surface clear, they do not address the problem of branches and brush encroaching from above. It was recognized that this issue needs to be monitored and planned for.

In the past, snowmobile clubs have contributed valuably to clearing brush and cutting branches and trees. Prescott Towle agreed to dialogue with these clubs about what might be done in the future, and he will report back to the Board on findings.

Opposition to ATV Use. Allowing ATVs on trails constructed with Federal funds – a non-permitted use – has been requested in the past by Claremont and other towns, resulting in Federal Highway Administration rejection of the request for a waiver. Currently, Claremont and Haverhill are reported to be approaching the New Hampshire Congressional delegation, urging amendments to the underlying law so as to allow ATVs.

After discussion, the Board was united in opposition to any such change in the law, and authorized Alex Bernhard to write to all concerned expressing our opposition.

Abandonment of the PanAm Right-of-Way between Boscawen and Concord Center. On June 30, Alex Bernhard, George Heaton and Ricker Miller joined a walk of some two-dozen interested people (public groups and citizens) along the entire 6 miles of the rail bed being abandoned by Pan Am between Concord and Boscawen.

The walk highlighted the beauty and interest of this possible extension of the Trail. While the prime movers in this project are groups and officials in Concord and at the regional and state levels, FNRT-MC is strongly in favor of it and eager to support its realization.

Summer Celebration Fund-Raising. Two summer celebrations provided an opportunity to promote awareness of the Trail and raise funds for its enhancement. At the Andover Fourth of July celebration, FNRT-MC operated a booth that attracted many interested people and netted approximately $700 in bicycle raffle tickets and other contributions. Thanks to Peter Southworth for organization, and to many volunteer booth staffers!

On July 22, the celebration of “Music on the Bandstand” in Wilmot netted some $600 for FNRT-MC from food sales to enthusiastic consumers. Thanks to Lindy Heim and all who contributed food!

Future Dates of Note:

July 29 – FNRT-MC table at Wilmot Farmers Market

August 6 – Andover Historical Society Old Time Fair at Potter Place. NOTE: Bicycle raffle winner announced.

August 16 – Board meeting, 7 PM, Andover Fire House