Friends of the Northern Rail Trail – May 18, 2023

Draft Minutes of FNRT Board of Directors Meeting
(held via Zoom)
May 18, 2023, 5 PM

Board Attendees: Alex Bernhard, Amy Chan, Barbara Couturier, Steve Darling, Lindy Heim,
Cody Hussey, Charles Martin, Myra Mayman, Ricker Miller, Don Moyer, Joe Olimpio, Tom
Rousseau, Peter Southworth.

Committee Members: Craig Heim (Administration); Patrice Rasche; (Promotion)
Guest: Gary LeBlanc, Scenic Railriders
1. Minutes.  Approval of Minutes for April, 2023 – by unanimous vote.

2. Treasurer’s Report.  Treasurer Tom Rousseau had submitted a digital report to all board members for review in advance of the meeting.  Board members were asked if there were any questions regarding his report, but none were forthcoming.  By unanimous vote the report for May was accepted.

Tom also noted that annual filings for the federal form 990-EZ and the state of New Hampshire report for non-profits had recently been filed to meet the May 15 deadline. He also reported on the status of our annual donations in comparison to the previous year. FNRT has received an increase compared to 2022, therefore we are well on our way to the goal for 2023.

Committee Reports:
Administrative Committee
1. Tech updates
Cody Hussey reported that he noted 50 new subscribers to the online newsletter in the past month.  Along with this he remarked the usage of our website has also seen an increase in the same timeframe.

Also he noted that our trial with the “Ride With GPS” application has shown that there is much enhanced information and capabilities that can complement our current online maps of the trail.  He suggested we should decide, in the near future, if this would be beneficial for our users and would justify the approximate $500 annual fee.

2. Guidelines for project approvals
Don Moyer gave expanded explanations about the proposed guidelines for approving projects that affect the rail trail.  The main principle is that we must stay within the rules set by New Hampshire when any activity is contemplated on state property such as the rail trail.
The guidelines that Don has created act as a filter to help both proposer of the activity and the FNRT board in determining what will need further approval.   Don detailed examples of projects needing board approval.

3. Maps and Interpretive Signs
Cody Hussey reported that he has contacted a contractor who is well qualified to produce professional trail maps for our kiosks.  He also noted that he recommends the formation of a small committee to interact with such a contractor.  Two board members voiced their willingness to serve on this committee with Cody.

4. Recommendation from Administration Committee
By unanimous approval the board agreed with the recommendation that there should be two fundraising appeals:  one digital, project specific appeal in the Nov./Dec., 2023 timeframe and one postal, annual appeal in the May/June, 2024 timeframe.

5. Need for policy or guideline for board position on issues
Cody Hussey gave a comprehensive background on the typical positions taken by non-profits on legislative issues that affect their operation and mission.  Until this point in time FNRT has not taken unified positions on such issues, but it was agreed that the board does need a  guideline.  Much discussion followed until it was agreed that this subject needs further attention by the Administration Committee.

Trail Maintenance Committee

Thanks to the fact that Don Moyer had distributed a digital version of his May Maintenance Team Report, board members were prepared to review, comment and vote on many areas included in his report.

Don reviewed the bid process and results for upcoming (2023) RTP work involving contracted work.  The board unanimously approved  a reserve sum of $73,165 and a match amount of $14,633 to assure that an accepted bid could proceed this year.

He then turned to detail a major project for the year 2024.  If approved this would involve a Phase II of the rail trail extension in Boscawen.  Because this extension involves a bridge and is in close proximity to a river, it is more complicated than the previous Phase I extension.  Don made a motion that the board approve $68,931 for this work, but Myra Mayman pointed out that this project had been previously approved.

Don then went on to detail a good number of Special Use Permit Projects that would be coming in the near future, depending upon funding and board approval. 

Finally, Don presented tables and graphs detailing 2023 maintenance team volunteer hours and a chart showing trail usage, data generated by several automatic counters located on the rail trail.

Joe Olimpio reported that there was nothing new to discuss in regards to the new informational kiosks, a topic he covered in the April board meeting.

Promotional Committee Updates

Amy Chan informed the board that she is hopeful that AARP will extend the grant funds awarded Cycling Without Age (CWA) past May 31’s due date because the shed construction has run into delays.  Besides this exception, the CWA program is going great, with two additional pilot training sessions this month and the tri-shaw, with staff, being loaned out for special events both in Lebanon and Hanover.

Next she mentioned a modest signage project in the Lebanon trail section giving credit to FNRT for removing downed trees and for our efforts to keep the trail clear.

Finally she reported that she and some Lebanon volunteers have planted some pollinator gardens and plan more for the city managed section.  Also, she is drafting guidelines for the pollinator project that she will present at the next board meeting.

Rail trail volunteer and our representative on the Merrimack River Greenway (MRG) board, Patrice Rasche, gave us a nice overview of the effort in Concord to build six miles of rail trail connecting the NRT to our capital city and the MRG.  The company CSX and the NHDOT continue to meet to discuss the possible sale of the rail bed in Concord.

Upcoming Events:

1. June 3, National Trails Day
2. June 12, Last Cycling Without Age pilot training
3. June 21, Board of Directors Meeting, Wednesday, 5 PM via Zoom.
4. Oct. 27, New Hampshire Rail Trails Conference, Christa McAuliffe Discovery Center, 2 Institute Drive, Concord, NH (featuring our own Amy Chan)

Respectfully submitted, Steve Darling, board member, FNRT