Board Attendees: Alex Bernhard, Steve Darling, George Heaton, Craig Heim, Lindy Heim, Charles Martin, Myra Mayman, Jack Shields, Peter Southworth
Friends; (from Andover, Boscawen, Canterbury, Epsom and Grafton): Elaine Clow, Bruce Cook, Sherry Cook, Bruce Crawford, Brian Fleury, Ricker Miller, Patrice Rasche, Steve Rasche, Prescott Towle
1. Minutes of July 2018 Board Meeting, accepted unanimously without amendment.
2. Treasurer’s Report, accepted unanimously
Since last report, FNRT-MC has experienced a gratifying inflow of funds, putting us in good financial shape for the Trail maintenance projects that are so crucial in this season.
Donations from individual Trail supporters – in the form of memberships, other donations and special event sales – have already exceeded the total for any previous year. FNRT-MC thanks our community of friends for this show of generosity and support!
Foundation support has also increased, with two significant grants to be used for Trail maintenance. This essential funding will cover the projects now underway (see immediately below).
Maintenance Projects. Under Chris Norris’ supervision, contracts have been led with Rodney Judkins to restore 6 bridges on the Trail to proper condition. These include one at the northern end of Danbury, and five in Andover. This work is now in progress, and will be completed “before the snow flies.”
The recent experience with Trail mowing prompted discussion about new approaches for next year to better manage vegetation. Ricker Miller will investigate improvements with mowing contractors at an appropriate time. And the Board will consider the scheduling of a “Work Day” next year in advance of mowing to remove obstacle
Improvements in Annual Appeal. Myra Mayman reported on the development of a new approach to the Annual Appeal next year, using Mail Chimp as the initial means of contact. This will allow for quicker, easier response for those who use it, and better-tailored mailings to others. Jim Lerner and Lee Carvalho have both committed to this activity next year, which bodes well for its success.
Reports on Recent Developments of Importance to the Trail
1. Actions by the Town of Boscawen to Extend the NRT — and Hopes for More.
Jack Shields, the FNRT-MC’s point-person in the drive to extend the Rail Trail southward, reported on major new developments in this direction.
Within the last month, the Town of Boscawen submitted an application to the NHDOT TAP (Transportation Alternatives Program) for funding to extend the NRT from its current southern terminus (“at the cornfield”) into the Hannah Dustin Park and to the Concord city line – a .62-mile section. The application – for $463,000 – would cover the cost of land acquisition, construction of a paved section of the Trail, and improved parking at Hannah Dustin. As this grant would involve Federal funding, it would require that 20% of the award be raised from non-Federal sources to match the Federal government’s 80%.
In order to move Trail extension plans forward – particularly the acquisition of right-of-way from the current owner, Pan Am Systems – an independent appraisal of value was necessary. This appraisal was undertaken by Collier International Valuation and Advisory Services, with funding from Pan Am Systems, FNRT-MC and MRGT (Merrimack River Greenway Trail). It furnishes an essential baseline for future negotiations.
With a decision on the Boscawen TAP grant application expected in January, the process of extending the Trail southward is unfolding in towns, among State agencies and at the FNRT-MC. The goal of all is to extend the Trail “from the cornfield” (Boscawen) to Horseshoe Pond (Concord). FNRT-MC strongly supports this goal and intends to help it move forward.
NHDOT Meeting re Bridge Replacement in Danbury
On September 13, the NHDOT’s Cultural Resources Agency held a meeting to consider the effects of a replacement bridge over US Rte. 4 in Danbury. Because the bridge is “historic” and overpasses the Trail, FNRT-MC was invited as a consultative party; George Heaton attended in this capacity. The meeting brought together engineers, bridge experts, historians, archeologists and environmental specialists. Its purpose was to consider how to “mitigate” the “adverse effects” of replacing the historic bridge.
FNRT-MC offered a submission for the record that focused on five points: 1) maintaining the grade separation between the roadway and the Trail; 2) an open, large design to the replacement bridge, as at Potter Place; 3) appropriate ditching and drainage; 4) preserving and relocating the two “tell-tales” on either side of the bridge; 5) an incised name on the new bridge, saying “Northern Railroad.”
The NHDOT agreed to incorporate all of these features, and to keep FNRT-MC informed of all important future developments. Of particular interest, the State officials expressed an interest in an inventory of signs on the Trail and development of appropriate historic signage to explain interesting Trail features, such as “tell-tales.”
The project will likely go out to bid in the summer of 2020, with construction probably in 2021. However, it was duly noted that Danbury residents are eager for the project to proceed as soon as possible.
Progress on Warner Rail Trail
The “Warner Rail Trail” follows a rail line from Concord to Claremont. It connects to the Northern Railroad line at Horseshoe Pond in Concord. A report was offered to FNRT-MC that the work is now underway to complete this trail. In the event that the NRT is extended to Horseshoe Pond in Concord, these two trails would connect – a major step forward in New Hampshire’s Rail Trail network
Events of Note:
1. Saturday, September 22 — First and Possibly Annual “What are the Friends of the Northern Rail Trail Doing with My Donation?” Bike Ride. 11 AM, Potter Place, rain or shine.
The ride begins at Potter Place, and makes a round-trip to the north and back, for a few miles. You will meet fellow friends who love the Northern Rail Trail in Merrimack County as much as you do, and see and learn about some of the challenges of maintaining a year-round recreation path. Bring lunch or snack for a post-ride get together at the Potter Place Picnic Area. JOIN US!
2. Wednesday, October 10 — Annual Meeting and Pot Luck Supper. 6 PM, Highland Lake Inn, East Andover. All friends of the Trail are invited to bring a dish and join in the joy of the Annual Pot Luck Supper, which will take place after the conclusion of the Annual Meeting (5:30 PM for Board only).
3. Wednesday, November 14 – Final Board Meeting in 2018. At The Hub in Andover, 7 PM.