Friends of Northern Rail Trail June Meeting

Press Release

Draft Minutes of Meeting held June 20, 2018

Present:  Alex Bernhard, Steve Darling, Charles Martin, Myra Mayman, Chris Norris, Jack Shields, Peter Southworth

Guests:  Charles Baer, Patrice Rasche, Steve Rasche

Small group, heavy lifting:  this summer’s significant maintenance work on the Trail was outlined and possible connection to Concord envisioned.

The minutes of the May 16 meeting were approved.

Treasurer’s report:

May was the biggest month for donations ever, $6220 since April, following the April 25 mailing of the annual appeal.  Contributions are running about the same as in past years despite the changes in tax law. $823.25 was generated from the Thursday’s Child dinner at the New London Inn.  Over all our income is a little ahead of past years, including contributions from organizations such as Andover Pizza Chef, Town of Boscawen, Proctor Academy, Upper Merrimack Local Advisory Committee, Andover Service Club, and the new Mill Number 4 Restaurant in Andover (across from Bellete).

On Correspondence:  Charles Martin reported on rail trail activity in Massachusetts: Governor Baker is soundly behind the rail trail movement.  The state has issued a bond for new rail trails; they build trails based on a 100 year target; the Governor or Lieutenant Governor appears at all rail trail openings. They are developing major long distance trails, including the Central MA Trail.  In Northampton there will be a major rail trail conference, the Golden Spike Trail Conference on July 27 and 28. The conference will bring together rail trail advocates and policy makers to share strategies and successes on the expansion of the trail networks.  Information is on line at


Request for Support: Patrice Rasche reported receiving an email request from the League of Conservation Voters asking for support of the reauthorization of the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, funded from federal oil lease revenues and used for projects of public use. Patrice suggested that it be used for the Concord connection.  

On Technology:  Cathy Lisk has contacted all sponsors asking them to renew sponsorships.

On Maintenance: Chris Norris discovered, riding south from Dyer’s Crossing in East Andover, that the Trails Bureau is repairing railings on 4 bridges between Dyers Crossing and Chance Pond Road.  They are doing a very good job, albeit in a slightly different style from ours. This is very good news; it relieves us of the burden of repairing them in 2019. This summer we are repairing a different set of 5 bridges between East Andover and Dyer’s Crossing. Chris also reported on further work on the four-pipe culvert just south of Eagle Pond Road in Wilmot. This is currently our worst culvert problem.

On ditching and culverts this summer:  Repairs to the culvert at Dyer’s Crossing in East Andover; ditching and resurfacing the wet area of the Trail at Agony Hill Road (also in East Andover) as well additional ditching south of the through plate bridge just south of the Potter Place RR station. We will also re-ditch south of Potter Place underpass in Andover, and replace the present culvert under the path to the Trail from the parking lot with a 12’ culvert. The Eagle Pond culvert area will be resurfaced. Will re-clean 3 or 4 culverts above Eagle Pond that we fixed last year to keep them open.

Patrice Rasche suggested that we have a trail ride after this work is done to show what is required to maintain trail and explain where members’ money goes. Chris agreed to lead such a tour at end of this season.  Alex added that at the same time we can and put up our small trail signs on the bridges. Patrice’s idea was met with enthusiasm and unanimously approved. She will take the lead to schedule and arrange it.

Steve Rayno has a promise from the City of Franklin to side bar mow from Boscawen line to Andover line. This is great news.  Steve himself has been working all along the trail cleaning the surface and now has started clearing ditches.

On herbicide. Myra asked for a decision on spraying in the fall by Prescott Towle.  There is a tension between an unease about spraying and the desire not to lose the Trail to vegetation.  Charles Martin asked how our efforts to find goats to eat the Trail clear of vegetation are going. Despite contact with several goat owners, goats are not happening this year. After a discussion it was voted that we not spray this fall.  However, we would like to keep herbicides on our agenda. It was suggested that we do more test patches with better documentation (before and after photos), and that we consider developing a 3-year plan rather than a yearly decision.

On completing the Trail to Concord. Jack Shields reported on a meetings with Boscawen Selectmen he attended last week and earlier tonight both focused on the possibility of Boscawen’s applying for a TAP grant to fund the acquisition of and trail construction on a short stretch of the Pan Am abandoned rail line near the Hannah Dustin Monument.  They voted to send a letter of intent to submit an application.

The Selectboard Board also discussed continuing the Trail on River Road to the Boscawen/Concord line if a funded acquisition from Pan Am could not be worked out.

Ebikes. Alex reported that Ebikes are becoming more popular and we should consider what we would support in this regard. He noted that as a federally funded rail trail, the Northern is governed by federal rules that allow Ebikes if they are “low-powered”, weigh under 100 pounds, have a top speed of not more than 20 mph and if state laws or regulations allow them. He noted that at present state law and regulations do not allow such bikes and they are therefore prohibited on the Northern. Alex suggested that if anyone is interested allowing these bikes on the Northern they should contact their state legislator and ask for a bill effecting this be introduced in the next session.

On Meeting in Franklin:  The consensus was that we continue meeting in Andover to avoid disruption and confusion about where we meet.

On Upcoming Meetings:

Summer is our busy season for having information tables with bike raffle:

June 21-23 Concord Market Days.  Patrice and Steve Rasche will share a table with the Merrimack River Greenway from noon to 4 pm each day.

July 4 Andover town green.  Peter Southworth is organizing the staffing; still looking for volunteers to fill in some holes in the schedule.  Will send a call for volunteers to our members.

July 21 Wilmot Farmers Market.  Charles Baer and Peter volunteered to help.  Lindy in charge.


August 5   Andover Historical Society’s Old Time Day.  Peter will cover.

Call for volunteer:  From the April 25 annual appeal mailing we have had about 25 envelopes returned with no forwarding address.  We are seeking someone who could research the names and addresses either to find new and valid addresses by contacting the person or confirming that we have no address for the person.  The work can be done by a volunteer at home. Contact: Steve Darling at