First Virtual Board Meeting of FNRT-MC a Clear Success

Attended by every board member

By George Heaton

Board: Alex Bernhard, Steve Darling, Tom Frantz, George Heaton, Craig Heim, Lindy Heim, Charles Martin, Myra Mayman, Chris Norris, Jack Shields, Peter Southworth, Nita Tomaszewski.

Loyal Trail Supporters: Ricker Miller, Patrice Rasche, Steve Rasche

In a sad sign of the times, the April Board Meeting of FNRT-MC had to be canceled, due to the need for social distancing in this moment. Undeterred, we decided to make a comeback: a virtual meeting via Zoom. Overcoming the usual glitches of “one-click access,” Meeting IDs, microphones and video, we eventually got the entire Board together on the screen, as well as a few others. With a presiding officer, a timekeeper, and a Zoommeister, we successfully processed a meeting of more than an hour, and accomplished as much as usual. We are content! (And note the way we screen-voted.)

Treasurer’s Report:  The unanimously-approved Treasurer’s report by Steve Darling brought the welcome news of approximately $7,000 in recent unrestricted donations: about $2,000 from our e-mail Annual Appeal (the stuffing party for snail-mail having been postponed); and a generous gift of $5,000 from a New Hampshire Charitable Foundation donor.

These gifts will supplement already-budgeted funds devoted to projects for the maintenance and improvement of the Trail during the summer months. With the financial picture thus augmented, the Trail will soon benefit.

Granite State Wheelers Grant: The Granite State Wheelers, a New Hampshire recreational bicycling club, offers a program of grants of up to $2,500 to New Hampshire bicycling organizations. We are pleased to report that through the efforts of Lindy Heim and Tom Frantz, the FNRT-MC won one of these grants. It will be used to improve, with lighting and other features, the Lawrence Street tunnel in Andover, which has long been on a wish-list of projects.  Tom Frantz will begin discussions with contractors to move the project forward soon.

RTP Grant Application (Eagle Pond Culvert): Jack Shields and Lindy Heim reported on their continuing efforts to assemble an application to the New Hampshire Recreational Trails Program for the Eagle Pond culvert project. Long presenting a problem of flooding and erosion, this culvert needs redesign and reconstruction, at significant cost. Various materials are necessary for the application – such as contractors’ bids to estimate design and cost data – and endorsements from various organizations (towns, schools, businesses) that benefit from the Trail are being solicited. With a due date of June 19, Jack and Lindy are confident of an excellent and timely submission.

Summer Maintenance: Culverts, Ditches, Bridges, Railings, and Surfaces.  Chris Norris is deeply involved with contractors and others in planning for the several summer projects that will be undertaken. Once priorities and time-lines are established, work will begin. Look for it on the Trail!

Possible Combining of FNRT-MC and Grafton County Trail Websites: Alex Bernhard presented the intriguing idea of combining the now-separate websites of the two counties covered by the Northern Rail Trail (Merrimack and Grafton) under one umbrella. He made the point that users of the Trail tend to see it as one 58-mile entity, and that it thus made sense to present in that way on the internet.

With unanimous agreement on these points, Alex was authorized to undertake an assessment, with our website managers, of the feasibility of this change; and then contacting Grafton County individuals, if appropriate.

E-Bike Recharging:  Jack Shields displayed the very-attractive e-bike recharging station signs that are ready to be installed at three locations on the Trail:  the Homestead Inn in Boscawen, the Highland Lake Inn in East Andover, and the Danbury Country Store. After final consultations with these three businesses, the signs will be installed.

Rail Trail Extension from Boscawen into Concord:  Patrice Rasche and Jack Shields reported on the current status of a long-hoped for extension of the Northern Rail Trail into Concord.

With little movement on this front, the FNRT-MC has focused its efforts anew on the .6-mile section that remains undeveloped in Boscawen. Inclusion of this mileage into the Trail would lead to the Hannah Dustin Memorial – a more natural terminus than the current cornfield!

To this end, Jack Shields, Myra Mayman, and Patrice Rasche developed and sent a letter to the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation requesting support for the .6-mile extension.

Much-Appreciated Volunteer Efforts:  With volunteers the lifeblood of FNRT-MC, we are pleased to recognize recent new and ongoing efforts in this regard. For one, Cathe Lisk, our website creator, is now making various updates and improvements, along with new postings.

In addition, the New Hampshire Rail Trails Coalition is in the process of updating its website.  FNRT-MC input will be provided by both Cathe and Charles Martin.

Lastly, there has been a major effort, led by Lindy Heim, to keep informational kiosks full of Trail maps. Debbi Miller, Lindy Heim, Myra Mayman, and Nita Tomaszewski have been distributing them.

Next Meeting: We intend to hold a virtual Board Meeting for May, again using Zoom, on Wednesday, May 20, at 5 PM.