Friends of the Northern Rail Trail Minutes: September 16, 2020

By George Heaton


Condensed from draft minutes


The meeting of the FNRT-MC Board was held via Zoom on September 16, 2020.

Board Attendees:  Alex Bernhard, Steve Darling, George Heaton, Craig Heim, Lindy Heim, Charles Martin, Myra Mayman, Ricker Miller, Chris Norris, Steve Rasche, Jack Shields, Nita Tomaszewski.

Guests and Loyal Trail Supporters:  Barbara Couturier, Don Moyer, Patrice Rasche

Special Guest Presentation:  Craig Tufts, Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission (CNHRPC)

What Counts!

Supplementing the Board’s “normal” business agenda, September’s meeting featured a presentation by Craig Tufts (CNHRPC) on the “counts” of Trail usage that have been collected in recent months.  We were fascinated and grateful for Craig’s presentation, and look forward to more interaction with his organization.  Afterwards, the various other projects that “count” so much to the Trail and our community were addressed.

CNHRPC Trail Study
For a two-week period at the end of June, the staff of the CNHRPC took a series of “counts” on the Northern Rail Trail at locations in Boscawen.  These counts were obtained from two devices — an infrared sensor, mounted at waist-level;  and a treadle-tube on the ground – which, together, can count both pedestrians and cyclists.

Perhaps the most striking finding was a huge increase in Trail usage:  approximately double the counts taken in 2015, and probably a 50% increase during the pandemic time-period.  While recreational facilities state-wide have experienced increased usage, this dramatic uptick on the Northern Rail Trail is gratifying, attesting to its appreciation by a wide community, and its many attractions.

A sample of the raw data is presented in the graph above.  One can see, for example, a peak daily usage of 175 counts on Saturday, June 27;  and a daily average of 84 at the Boscawen location.  As there is much more to be learned from current and future counts, FNRT-MC intends to continue involvement with this much-appreciated CNHRPC effort.

Business Matters:

1. August Minutes.  The Draft Minutes of August 2020 were unanimously approved, without amendment.

2. Treasurer’s Report.  The Treasurer’s Report – unanimously approved – shows FNRT-MC’s financial situation in excellent shape, and fully consistent with our projected yearly budget.

During the month, payments were made for mowing of the entire Trail and for insurance to cover the organization and its officers and directors.   Funds have been budgeted for the various maintenance projects now underway. (See below.)

There have been various inflows of grants within the year, as well as continued contributions from the Annual Appeal, which put the year-end donation goals in easy sight.

On August 20, Treasurer Steve Darling submitted the required yearly Non-Profit Annual Report to the State of New Hampshire, which details the financial position and is available for viewing.

Reports on Ongoing Projects: 

1. Bridges, Ditches and Surfaces.  A bridge just over the county line in Grafton County has come to our attention, as in need of various repairs.  Volunteer Don Moyer has led an effort involving Ricker Miller, George Heaton and Grafton County people, and Ricker has brought the need for these repairs to the attention of the New Hampshire Trails Bureau.  With FNRT-MC contributing various short-term fixes, we are hopeful that the State and Grafton County will be able to undertake a thorough remedy for current conditions.

With guidance from Chris Norris, contractor Jon Champagne is embarking on our “job list” of maintenance and improvement items, within the budgeted amount of $16,300.

The reports of wheel-turning sand on the Trail at various points have been monitored and addressed by Ricker Miller, Chris Norris, and volunteer Boyd Smith.

2.  Lawrence St. Tunnel, Andover.  Lindy Heim reported on Tom Frantz’ successful overture to Eversource, who will help FNRT-MC design and mount a solar-powered device to power a series of LED lights in the tunnel.  With this happy development, Tom will move this project toward completion.

New Developments of Interest and Concern: 

1. Extension of Trail in Boscawen-Concord. A subgroup of the Board, spearheaded by Jack Shields, has continued to monitor and be involved in the discussions of an extension of the Trail from its current terminus in Boscawen to the Hannah Duston site in Boscawen;  and beyond, into the center of Concord.  As this complicated, many-stakeholder process moves forward, FNRT-MC will continue its involvement and strong support.

2. Change at New Hampshire Trails Bureau.  Word has been received that Chris Gamache, Head of the State of New Hampshire Bureau of Trails, is resigning at the end of September.  After Chris’ long tenure, the Trails Bureau will see change.

3. More History of the Northern Railroad.  Lindy Heim reported that railroad historian and well-published author Rick Kfoury is finishing a history of freight on the Northern Railroad.  This work is eagerly anticipated at a future meeting.

Adjournment – via Zoom sign-off: 6:23 PM

Next Meeting:

Regular Monthly Meeting — Wednesday, October 21, 5 PM.  Via Zoom.