Report of FNRT-MC February Board Meeting

By George Heaton

Condensed from approved minutes:
Board Attendees (in person): Alex Bernhard, Tom Frantz, George Heaton, Myra Mayman, Chris Norris, Jack Shields, (via media connection): Lindy Heim, Charles Martin,

Loyal Trail Supporters and Welcome Guests:  Ricker Miller, Patrice Rasche, Steve Rasche; Gretchen Durack and Walter Durack

Business Matters:

1. Minutes of January 2019 Board Meeting, accepted unanimously without amendment.

2. Treasurer’s Report.   Continuing the discussion of January, a revised budget was presented, corrected in some particulars, and discussed in general.  With projected income for 2019 looking to be around $20,000, and projected expenses about $14,000, the budget forecast showed a likely surplus.  Looking at this surplus, combined with a healthy cash-on-hand balance in the bank, the Board quickly came to the conclusion that additional funds should be committed to various Trail improvement projects.  (See below.)

With this resolve, and various minor corrections, the budget for 2019 was unanimously approved.

Trail Projects:
1. Mowing.  Chris Norris reported on an agreement in principle with mowing contractor Jim Shaw to undertake this work.  The Board authorized Chris to proceed to a signed contract and scheduling.

2. “Brushing Back.”  Ricker Miller reported on his outreach efforts to other groups, such as the “Town Line Trail Dusters” in Boscawen/Penacook, to undertake “brushing back” along the Trail – i.e., cutting of overhead and other encroaching large vegetation, using equipment such as a “Brontosaurus.”

The Board was very receptive to these plans, and agreed with Ricker’s welcome plans to cooperate with other groups and move this work forward in the summer.   

3. Bridge Repair.  Coincident with the budget discussion, the Board considered anew the subject of bridge repair.  Chris Norris reported on the repair needs of four bridges, two each in Franklin and Danbury. He was then authorized to solicit bids for the two bridges in Franklin as a first step.


Other Matters:

1. Rejection of the Town of Boscawen’s TAP Proposal. In late January, the State DOT announced its awards under the TAP Program.  Boscawen’s proposal was not among them, having scored lower than others in part because of a lack of assured funding in the 20% match and “connectivity” of the Trail into Concord.  With the hoped-for fruition of the plans below (see #2), future proposals of this nature may be mounted successfully.

2. Cooperation with the Merrimack River Greenway in Plans for Trail Extension.  George Heaton, Myra Mayman and Jack Shields reported on a highly successful meeting with representatives of the Merrimack River Greenway in Concord on February 4.

The “news item” of most importance is an ongoing negotiation process between the City of Concord and PanAm to purchase its right of way, from Boscawen into the center of Concord.  A central aspect of these negotiations is the plan for a new railroad facility south of the City, and the consequent complete abandonment of all right-of-way to the north – all to be concluded in a hoped-for package.

The “action items” of most importance are four:   1) an agreement to continue cooperation between FNRT-MC and the Merrimack River Greenway;  2) the election of Jack Shields to the Greenway Board, and therefore, the liaison between the two groups;  3) continued monitoring of the Concord-PanAm negotiations; 4) hoped-for enlistment of the Town of Boscawen in this process.

3. RTP Program Investigation.  As the Trail has benefitted from NH Recreational Trails Program grants in the past, Lindy Heim agreed to investigate the schedule and criteria for such grants, and consider whether they offer another funding source for the Northern Rail Trail maintenance projects.

4. Bridge Replacement in Danbury.  As reported in prior meetings, the NH DOT has plans to replace the Route 4 bridge that crosses the Trail south of Danbury.  Another public hearing was being held on this matter in Danbury on February 13. As no FNRT-MC representatives were able to attend, George Heaton agreed to submit a letter for the record (which was received).  The FNRT-MC is well satisfied with DOT’s design proposals, which have not changed.

Adjournment:  8:21 PM

Next Meeting:

NOTE:  There will be no meeting in March

Wednesday, April 17, 2019;  7 PM; The Andover Community Hub, Andover.  All are cordially invited!

Respectfully submitted, George Heaton