FNRT – MC Board Meeting – March 17, 2021

By George Heaton

Condensed from draft minutes
Board Attendees:  Alex Bernhard, Steve Darling, George Heaton, Craig Heim, Lindy Heim, Charles Martin, Myra Mayman, Steve Rasche, Jack Shields
Loyal Trail Supporters:  Barbara Couturier, Don Moyer, Patrice Rasche

Special Guest:  Amy Chan, Grafton County Trail Enthusiast

“Marchons!” (Being the French Battle Cry: We March! March On!)

In March, FNRT-MC attacks a variety of projects and is poised to fulfill some long-awaited plans.

Business Matters

February Draft Minutes.  Unanimously approved, with the three following amendments:

The reported $20,000 contribution from the Boscawen Conservation Commission to Trail Extension has been rescinded. The Concord application to the TAP program covers only the northernmost section (1.79 miles) of a proposed Trail into the center of the city. And sketches of proposed crossing relocation at Plains Road in Andover have already been submitted to Trails Bureau and DOT.

Treasurer’s Report.    Treasurer Steve Darling reported receipt during March of the yearly certificate from the State of New Hampshire, attesting to FNRT-MC’s “good standing” as a non-profit civic organization.

A continued inflow of funds from generous donors supporting the Extension of the Northern Rail Trail in Boscawen has brought us close to the fund-raising goal.

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.  Happily, the negotiations among the various parties involved in transfer of the existing railroad right-of-way have now moved into the final stage of review of a few clauses in the Purchase and Sale Agreement.

In a next-day Executive Session of the Board, it was voted to reimburse Jack Shields $1,175 for fees incurred in connection with the Purchase and Sale agreement.

With donations received now close to the goal of $130,000, we have begun considering construction plans and budget.  Jack Shields, Chris Norris, Ricker Miller, and Don Moyer at are work on this

With plans close to fruition, Barbara Couturier has been working on publicity and donor-thanks initiatives.

Trail Crossing at Plains Street 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 on a recent highly-positive in-person, on-site meeting with Trails Bureau officials.  With sketches in to the State and plans formulated, other stakeholders – AT&T and the Town of Andover — are being consulted.  With Chris Norris also taking a role, this improvement is getting close.

Lighting in the Lawrence Street Tunnel:  Don Moyer reported on another successful on-site, in-person meeting with State officials that moves this project a step closer to fruition.  Tom Frantz and Ricker Miller as well are working on sourcing the lighting for a now agreed-upon low-intensity, battery, solar-powered, vandal-resistant installation.

Trail Counters: Craig Tufts of the Central NH Regional Planning Commission and Don Moyer have now fixed a schedule and locations for Trail Counting this year.  Counters will be operational for two three-week periods at two locations:  in June, through July 4 in Boscawen;  and through Columbus Day in October at Potter Place in Andover.

Culvert at Eagle Pond:  As previously reported, the FNRT-MC application to the State of New Hampshire for an Rail Trails Program grant to completely reconstruct the Eagle Pond culvert has been approved.  Within the last month, it has become apparent that contractors’ costs will go up and that the FNRT-MC will be required to cover this without a corresponding increase in State funds.

The Board therefore voted to authorize an increase in our expenditure, bringing it to a total of $8,000.

With this authorization, Jack Shields, who is leading this project, will sign contracts and pursue final details with State and Federal officials and contractors, so as to begin this project in early summer.

Annual Appeal:  Myra Mayman reported that the Annual Appeal effort has been planned to begin at the end of March and extend into April.  After an electronic “mailing,” Lee Carvalho, who has spearheaded this effort in the past, will send traditional solicitations to our donor list.

Possibility of Merrimack-Grafton County Rail Trail Merger

For many years, the physically continuous Northern Rail Trail has been shepherded by separate organizations in Merrimack and Grafton Counties.  A special guest from Grafton County, Amy Chan, occasioned the consideration of a merger of these two organizations.

In a preamble to these discussions, Alex Bernhard reported on his contacts with Dick Mackay, the long-time head of the Grafton County Rail Trail Friends organization, who feels that the time is right to dissolve the Grafton organization and merge our efforts.

Amy made a presentation about the many and enthusiastic Trail-oriented activities now going on in Grafton County, of which she is a part.

All present agreed that a combination of the Merrimack and Grafton Friends would bring new vitality, numbers, and opportunity.  Alex Bernhard was therefore authorized to continue discussion with Dick Mackay about next steps.

Other News

FNRT-MC at Andover Fourth of July Celebration:  Peter Southworth reported his willingness to mount the usual FNRT-MC booth at the Andover Fourth of July celebration, with hopes that it can occur.

Market Basket: Patrice Rasche reported on the I-93 Exit 17 plans for a Market Basket store, and agreed to make contact with those involved about a connection to the Trail.

TV Interview:  Jack Shields has been filmed for a Yankee Chronicle television broadcast about the Trail extension.  “Stay tuned.”

Chain Saw Safety:  Don Moyer reported that State officials, in their meetings with him, have reiterated the State requirement for PPE when doing chainsaw work on the Trail.  This equipment includes a helmet, steel-tipped shoes, and chainsaw chaps.  We urge all our “Trailmeisters” to take note and be safe.

Next regular monthly meeting will be on Wednesday, April 21, at 5 PM via Zoom.