Friends of the Northern Rail Trail Minutes, February 17

Condensed from draft minutes of the Zoom meeting held on February 17

Board Attendees:  Alex Bernhard, Steve Darling, George Heaton, Charles Martin, Myra Mayman, Ricker Miller, Chris Norris, Steve Rasche, Jack Shields, Peter Southworth
Loyal Trail Supporters:  Barbara Couturier, Don Moyer, Patrice Rasche

Happy Presidents’ Week

During a week when Presidents are celebrated, and the Trail a winter delight, FNRT-MC saluted Co-President Myra Mayman on her birthday, as we pushed forward with plans on many fronts.

Business Matters

Treasurer’s Report:  The major activity reported by Treasurer Steve Darling was a continued inflow of funds from generous donors supporting the Extension of the Northern Rail Trail in Boscawen.  Now nearing the fund-raising goal, we are in good position to push forward with the financing of right-of-way transfer and Trail construction.  FNRT-MC continues to take deep satisfaction in the vast support within the community for this project.

Letter of Support:  Patrice Rasche brought to our attention the plans by the City of Concord to apply for a TAP grant (a federally funded, state administered program of “Alternatives” to traditional transportation modes).  This grant would cover costs in developing the Northern Rail Trail through a 5.75 mile stretch of the railroad right-of way in Concord, and link with the Trail in Boscawen that we plan to build.  The Board voted unanimously to submit a Letter of Support for this project.

Ongoing Projects

Trail Extension in Boscawen:  Jack Shields — who has been spearheading the FNRT-MC initiative to extend the Trail 0.6 miles in Boscawen to the Hannah Duston site – reported on the project’s current status.  As noted above in the Treasurer’s Report, the FNRT-MC has received substantial donations devoted specifically to this project.  While individual donations have been the lion’s share, we are gratified by recent donations from the corporate community, foundations, and the Town of Boscawen.  With approximately $126,000 on hand and a number of other pledges made, we are ready to make this project a reality.

At this point, the issues in play revolve around transfers of ownership and the drafting of a Purchase and Sale Agreement acceptable to the several parties involved.  As this is being pushed forward by our counsel, and under active consideration by all concerned, we are hopeful of a conclusion soon.

Barbara Couturier offered to draft a description of the project – its genesis, current status, and future vision – for various publicity uses.

Plains Road and Route 11:  Don Moyer — leading a group to devise a solution for the dangers of the intersection of the Trail, Route 11, and Agony Hill Road in Andover – reported happily on a recent positive communication from the NH DOT.  DOT is now in favor of both signage and Trail entrance relocation to minimize the risk that this intersection entails for Trail users.  The next step – which Don is pursuing – is to submit a sketch of proposed changes to DOT.

Lawrence Street Tunnel:  Don Moyer reported that a solution to the long-running problem of lighting in the tunnel seems now at hand.  The NH DOT and Trails Bureau– rather than the Town of Andover – are the principals, with an agreement in the works between the two agencies.  Eversource has generously offered to provide and install a pole for a solar panel.  The next steps are to locate and contract for the work, which requires a knowledgeable solar contractor.

Trail Counters:  In September 2020, Craig Tufts of the Central NH Regional Planning Commission made a fascinating presentation about trail usage monitoring.  Buoyed by new knowledge of much increased Trail usage, the FNRT-MC — with Don Moyer taking the lead — agreed to cooperate on future-such studies.  Don and Craig have now reserved summer and fall dates and places to put the Trail Counters to work.  We look forward to the result.

Next Meeting:  Regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, March 17, at 5 PM via Zoom.