Saturday, February 18, 2017

February 15, 2017 Meeting Minutes

FNRT-MC logo
FNRT-MC, Draft Minutes of Meeting
February 15, 2017
Andover Fire House, Andover

Yet another snowstorm did not deter the Board from conducting a meeting that approved important actions for the Trail!

Board Attendees: Steve Darling, Heather Deardorff, Tom Frantz, George Heaton, Lindy Heim, Chris Norris,Nita Tomaszewski
Guests: Ricker Miller, and Special Guest Marty Parichand of Outdoor New England

Co-President Lindy Heim called the meeting to order at 7:10 PM; adjourned 9:02.
The February meeting had two major foci. First, a number of business matters that had been previewed in January were voted into action. Second, the Board was pleased to receive a presentation from Marty Parichand of Outdoor New England about plans for the Franklin Falls Whitewater Park and Outdoor Center.
Business Matters:
  1. The Minutes of the January and February meetings will be presented for approval at the March meeting.
  2. The Treasurer’s Report covered both the current financial status of FNRT-MC, and a proposed budget for 2017. As to the former, we happily note that funds now on hand should be sufficient to cover the cost of all the Trail maintenance projects discussed below.

    As to the budget offered by Treasurer Steve Darling for 2017, this was unanimously accepted.
  3. Trail Maintenance Projects have now become a time-critical item, given the pressing need to receive authorization, obtain any necessary State approvals, let contracts, and begin work in the early spring. A list of seven potential projects, prepared by Alex Bernhard, focused the discussion. These included – listed in the priority order that was the sense of the meeting: three bridge repair projects in Andover, vegetation removal in Franklin, repairing trail surface in E. Andover, Lawrence Street culvert repair in Andover, and various ditching and culvert cleaning needs along the length of the Trail.

    For all of these projects, contractors have been identified, and bids or estimates submitted. It was thus possible to arrive at a total budget.

    All of the projects were therefore authorized by the Board, subject to the proviso that if any unforeseen deviations from current cost estimates arose, the Board would be informed and would re-consider the matter.

    In each instance, a project manager has been designated from the Board.

    The project managers will report on progress at the next meeting.
  4. Trail Signage. Heather Deardorff presented the results of her significant work – along with Ed Hiller – on the Trail signage initiative. The signage anticipated would have two types: historic interpretive signs; and orientation signs. Working with a graphic artist, Heather offered draft signs for consideration, which were approved in general terms.Plans are also underway for ways to best display the new signage, and to install kiosks, at strategic points on the Trail.
    Heather will, before the next meeting, offer a fuller signage proposal for consideration at the next meeting.
    The consensus of the meeting was that the current FNRT-MC logo should be preserved. And that consistency of the logo and signs between Merrimack and Grafton Counties is both highly desirable and very feasible, given the coordination to date between the two counties.

    Presentation on Franklin Falls Whitewater Park and Outdoor Center
    The “special guest” of the meeting was Marty Parichand, of Outdoor New England. Marty is spearheading an initiative to transform the City of Franklin and its waterfront into a Whitewater Park and Outdoor Center.
    Marty made a fascinating presentation on the history of Franklin as a manufacturing center, of the current issues it faces from the decline of that industry, and of its future potential.
    The “envisioning” that Marty presented has Franklin at the center of a Central New Hampshire nexus for outdoor recreation, which would include biking/hiking/snowmobile trails, and a whitewater park. While the possibilities are vibrant, there are still many hurdles to be overcome, among them: river debris and pollution, infrastructure development, and funding.
    From the point of view of FNRT-MC, we applaud, and fully support, the efforts to use recreational facilities as an engine of economic growth in our region.
    The Board was most appreciative for this presentation.

    Next Meeting: March 15, 2017, First Congregational Church, 19 North Wilmot Road
    Respectfully Submitted, George Heaton

Friday, January 27, 2017

January 18, 2017 meeting minutes

FNRT-MC, Draft Minutes of Meeting
January 18, 2017
Danbury Community Center, Danbury

Board Attendees: Alex Bernhard, Steve Darling, Heather Deardorff, George Heaton, Nita Tomaszewski

Guests: Ricker Miller, Dick Mackay and Ken Warren (Grafton County Trail representatives)
Vice-President Alex Bernhard called the meeting to order at 7:05 PM; adjourned 8:41.

The January meeting took place after a three-month hiatus. In addition to various business matters, the majority of the meeting was absorbed with presentations of plans and projects for 2017, to be considered further and voted on at the February meeting.

Business Matters:
  1. Chris Norris, Director. Chris Norris was unanimously approved as a new member of the Board of Directors of FNRT-MC. Although Chris has been a stalwart contributor to the Trail for years, it is good to welcome him to this new role.
  2. Minutes of the October Meeting were unanimously approved without alteration.
  3. The Treasurer’s Report focused on the presentation of a draft Budget for 2017. Based on discussion at the meeting, Steve Darling will offer a revised budget for Board approval at the February meeting.
  4. Correspondence received since the last meeting included the appointment of Steve Rayno to the position of “Trailmaster.” As other individuals have expressed interest in such a position as a way of supporting the Trail, the Board will consider this possibility at the February meeting.

Plans and Projects For 2017:
  1. Upgrade Website to WordPress. With general agreement that the FNRT-MC website would be much improved by changing to WordPress, Steve Darling was authorized to offer Heather Turner -- who has already been working at the project -- $300 to cover expenses and express thanks for completing this effort.
  2. Trail Signage. Prior to the meeting, Heather Deardorff met with Dick Mackay and Ken Warren, representatives from the Grafton County Trail, to consider upgrading and coordination of signage along the entire Northern Rail Trail, in both Merrimack and Grafton counties.

    Various signage issues are being addressed. Ken Warren presented a mock-up of a new logo for the entire Trail. This design will be considered at the February meeting. Heather Deardorff presented a draft of a historic “Northern Rail Trail” sign for use at kiosks and other strategic locations. Milepost markers were also discussed; as well as “URHere” markers with distances, and access via smartphones.

    Heather Deardorff, lead Board member for signage projects, was authorized to expend $850 to procure 5 “Historic” signs from the graphic designer currently involved in the project, to be placed along the Trail. Final copy for these signs will be discussed at the February meeting.
  3. Maintenance Projects. Alex Bernhard presented a list of six possible maintenance projects for 2017. Discussion of these possibilities yielded a general consensus that all 6 of the projects are worthwhile, and should be undertaken. A definitive vote on all proposed maintenance projects will be taken at the February meeting.

    One of the projects – vegetation removal in Franklin – has already seen considerable planning, and was already covered in prior budgeting. Nita Tomaszewski agreed to take responsibility for moving this forward now, as timely coordination is necessary with the Trail’s contractor, Prescott Towle, as well as the State.

    Another project – repairing the Trail surface in E. Andover – has already gotten underway through the efforts of Ricker Miller. Ricker will move this forward by contacting contractors and/or potential donors of services, and Alex Bernhard will provide advice on any State “alteration of terrain” permits that may be needed.

    Lastly, Lindy Heim (not in attendance) subsequently reminded the Board of the need for maintenance and lighting improvements on the Lawrence St. Bridge. This will also be considered in February.

Other Actions and Developments of Note:
  1. Signage. Jack Shields has procured – with Board approval via email –replacement milepost signs to mark the places of the two original mileposts that are missing from the Trail. In addition, the City of Concord has completed installation of signs with directions to the Trailhead. Lastly, the Board approved a motion for Jack to expend $150 for an information kiosk in Boscawen.

    The Board approved a Motion of Appreciation to Jack for his work on these projects.
  2. PanAm Abandonment of Right-of-Way. Alex Bernhard reported on the recent formal filing to the Surface Transportation Board for an “abandonment of service” by PanAm Railways of 6.1 miles of right-of-way in Concord and Boscawen on the west side of the Merrimack River. This action goes one step farther toward the goal of an extension of the Rail Trail into Concord. Other important steps yet to be taken include the expected approval of the “abandonment,” and a hoped-for purchase of the right-of-way by the State.
  3. Mascoma River Greenway. The representatives from Grafton Country reported on plans for an extension of the Trail at its northern end, which will include rail and tie removal and surfacing, expected to begin in the summer of 2017.
  4. Letter re “Missing” Mileposts. Both in discussion and in subsequent email communication, the Board approved the submission of a letter to the NH Trails Bureau requesting assistance in an effort to determine ownership of two “missing” mileposts currently installed at the residence of Roger Sanborn in Boscawen.
  5. Next Meeting: February 15, 2017, Andover Fire House, Andover. NOTE: this is a change from previously published venue in Boscawen.
Respectfully Submitted, George Heaton

Friday, August 5, 2016

July Meeting Minutes 2016

FNRT-MC logo
FNRT-MC, Draft Minutes of Meeting
July 20, 2016
Danbury Community Center, Danbury

Board Attendees: Alex Bernhard, Tom Frantz, George Heaton, Craig Heim, Lindy Heim, Charles Martin, Myra Mayman, Jack Shields, Nita Tomaszewski
Guests: Ed Hiller, Mary Hiller, Linda Howes, Marilyn LaPierre, Norm LaPierre, Steve Robinson, John Schlosser, Prescott Towle

Co-President Myra Mayman called the meeting to order at 7:02 PM; adjourned at 8:48 PM.
The July meeting was noteworthy for a great deal of good news; a wide-ranging discussion, with “to-do” list; and a few items of business

Good News:
1. RTP Grant Applications. Two applications for RTP funding have been submitted to the State of New Hampshire by FNRT-MC. These cover: the Depot Street bridge in Franklin, and ditching and culvert work at various sites, with proposed budgets of $10,000 and $17,000. A decision from the state is expected in November, with a year to spend the funds. Given new proposal documentation requirements from the Federal government (which will extend to contractors), a great amount of additional effort was required for this proposal. Nita Tomaszewski did yeoperson’s work on this – and received a round of applause.

2. Signage in Concord/Boscawen. For about two years, FNRT-MC has urged signage between Concord and Boscawen to indicate the direction to the Trail. These efforts are now bearing fruit. The City of Concord General Services Department has agreed to install four such signs. FNRT-MC will underwrite the cost: approximately $320. Jack Shields did yeoperson’s work on this – and received a round of applause.

3. Summer Maintenance and Improvement Projects. Given funding from the Brown foundation and donations, the Board is in a position to commission maintenance and improvement projects this summer and fall, as good weather lasts. This work may include permanent railings on the Depot Street bridge in Franklin, ditching in East Andover, and milepost signage.

4. Milepost Marker Signage. The acquisition, installation and upkeep of authentic milepost markers has been a gratifying improvement to the Trail. In the next phase, explanatory signage will be developed. Grant funds have been obtained, through which a designer has been commissioned to make a proposal to the association. Ed Hiller’s continuing work on this project continues to be greatly appreciated.

5. FHWA Ruling Against ATVs. For some time, the use of ATVs on rail trails has been a controversial issue. During the past year, the City of Claremont requested a waiver from US Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) rules that exclude such vehicles from trails purchased or built with Federal Transportation Enhancement funds for non-motorized vehicles. The State of New Hampshire endorsed this request to FHWA.
In mid-July, FHWA issued its opinion on the matter, ruling that ATVs are not an authorized use.
Other actions deny Trail use to ATVs with mushers.
As FNRT-MC has consistently taken a position against the use of ATVs on Rail Trails, this news was greeted with relief and happiness.

6. Trail Mowing. As of July 20, the Trail had been mowed southward from the Grafton Store to the gate at the Danbury Town Store. This work-in-progress aimed for immediate conclusion, with a fully mowed Trail. And it helps with ticks!

7. Future Expansion of Rail Trail into Concord. PanAm, the owner of the rail right-of-way in Concord and Boscawen, has recently filed for an “abandonment of service” on this area. Its action creates the happy possibility of an extension of the Rail Trail into Downtown Concord. Before this could occur, a sale would have to be effected -- likely to the State of New Hampshire or the City of Concord. And responsibility for the trail established – likely involving the Friends of the Merrimack River Greenway.

Discussion and To-Do’s:
1. Vegetation Control Project. Four months after FNRT-MC’s application to the State Trails Bureau for a limited, experimental herbicide application in a section of the Trail in Franklin, there has been no reply from the State, nor action taken by the association. It was unanimously agreed that Jack Shield should try to meet with State officials to understand the situation and resolve the matter if possible.

2. Milepost Ownership and Acquisition. As mentioned above, the acquisition of authentic milepost markers for the Trail has absorbed considerable effort over the last few years – and has been a great success. However, some of the original posts are missing, and the ownership and use of some is controversial.
Tom Frantz will take up the issue of ownership with the State Attorney General.
Ed Hiller will move forward with removal, repair and installation of three posts temporarily stored at the Veterans Cemetery.

3. Usage Profile for Trail. Although the Trail is well and happily used, the Board has come to realize that it lacks any systematic knowledge of the amount, types, and rates of usage. It was agreed that information of this type would be useful in developing a strategy to manage and improve the Trail for the benefit of citizens and our region. One recent development is the placement by Craig Tufts of the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission of a non-photographic counter on the Trail near the Boscawen end.
Tom Frantz and Charles Martin have begun plans for trail counts using various means, including cameras. From informal discussion with the State AG, it appears that such would be permissible, as there is no expectation of privacy on the Trail. But policies by FNRT-MC would still have to be developed as to the use and disposal of such information.
More discussion will ensue on this issue in the future.

4. Historical Signage and Explanation of Trail. Given the origins of the railroad and associated development in the mid-19th century, the Northern Rail Trail is today a kind of “living museum.” The Board feels that this legacy should be brought to users of the Trail, and that through this, their experience would be greatly enhanced. Other trails and localities have begun such signage – notably the Allegheny Passage, the Franklin Historical Society, and the Town of Canaan.
The Board agreed that we should embark on a consideration of how to bring forward the legacy of the Trail, and we will continue discussion on this matter in the future. The designer retained by Ed Hiller will be apprised of this intention and will factor it into his proposal. FNRT-MC will also seek cooperation with the “Friends Group” in Grafton County.

5. Potential Bridge Repair, and Liability Issues. The condition of the many bridges on the Trail is of special concern to all who use it. Nevertheless, there is currently no systematic inventory of the Trail’s bridges and their condition. Alex Bernhard and Chris Norris will undertake such an inventory and assessment in the near future.
With this analysis as a baseline, the Board anticipates further discussion of bridge maintenance. In embarking on any future bridge repair, many factors need to be taken into account, including snow mobile clubs’ past responsibility for this function, the insurance situation of the Board, and the position of the State of New Hampshire as to liability once repairs are undertaken. Investigations to better inform the Board on these questions will be undertaken by various Board members, and will receive future discussion.

6. Port-a-Potty in Boscawen. The lack of sanitary facilities at the beginning of the Trail in Boscawen can become frustrating and unhealthy. The Board happily agreed to Linda Howes’ willingness to make a proposal to address this lack.

Business Matters:
  1. The Draft Minutes of the June, 2016 meeting were approved. It was further agreed that financial information pertaining to FNRT-MC would be presented is a summary, structured form, calculated to inform the public of the FNRT-MC plans, activities and resources.
Future Dates of Note:
August 7, Andover Old Time Fair – 4th of July Bicycle Raffle winner announced
August 22 – “Dough Raiser” at Pizzeria Uno in Concord – mention FNRT-MC to gain contribution
October 1 – Rail Trail Rally of Special Olympics
Next Meeting: August 17, Franklin Regional Hospital
Respectfully Submitted, George Heaton

Friday, July 1, 2016

June meeting minutes

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FNRT-MC logo
FNRT-MC, Draft Minutes of Meeting
June 15, 2016
Merrimack County Nursing Home, Boscawen

Board Attendees: Alex Bernhard, Steve Darling, Tom Frantz, George Heaton, Charles Martin, Myra Mayman, Peter Southworth
Guest: Carla Heaton

Co-President Myra Mayman called the meeting to order at 7:05 PM; adjourned at 8:43 PM.
The meeting covered: 1) business matters and reports on actions taken; 2) status report and discussion of matters currently in progress; 3) the future agenda, near and long-term.

Business Matters and Reports:
  1. The Draft Minutes of the May, 2016 meeting were approved with one amendation: the indication that signs will be posted in various places along the Trail if and when a herbicide is used for vegetation control.
  2. The Treasurer’s report brought the good news of significant new receipts from grant applications – the Brown Foundation ($10,000) and the NH Charitable Foundation ($4000) – as well as continuing donations.

    Total assets as of 6/15/16 are $57,305, approximately $20,000 higher than a month ago. It should be noted that some of these funds -- i.e. those from grant applications – are restricted for use in trail maintenance and repair.

    A budgetary spread sheet that compared budgeted amounts with expenditures to date was reviewed.  This very helpful device will continue to be used.

  1. In the context of Community Relations, the FNRT-MC received an award at the Andover Middle School Graduation, honoring the Trail’s contribution to the community and its use for educational purposes. Charles Martin was present to accept the award.

    Correspondence has come in from members of the community concerned about the application of herbicides on the Trail. All such letters have been answered, and an invitation extended to these concerned citizens to attend Board meetings.

Matters Currently in Process:
  1. Vegetation Control
    The project for the experimental application of the herbicide Rodeo to a 6-mile section of the Trail in Franklin is ready to proceed, once the State of New Hampshire Trails Bureau gives approval. The Department of Agriculture has already given approval, and the Trails Bureau has recently been re-contacted by the Board (5/20/16) and the licensed applicator for the job (6/6/16) requesting final action.

    Although the Board previously voted unanimously to undertake the herbicide application, it continues to review this decision in light of citizen input and new scientific knowledge.

    A few letters have come in from interested citizens objecting to herbicide application. In each case, these letters have been answered with an explanation of the Board’s decision, and an invitation to attend a Board meeting so that further discussion is possible.

    An important new report from the WHO (World Health Organization) and FAO (UN Food and Agriculture Organization) on “pesticide residues” has come to the attention of the Board. This report, issued on May 16, again surveys the literature on glyphosates, and documents the new consensus from a UN meeting earlier in the month. It somewhat revises prior opinion, and concludes that glyphosates are “unlikely” to create risks of carcinogenicity, genotoxicity and toxicity. (See JOINT FAO/WHO MEETING ON PESTICIDE RESIDUES, Geneva, 9–13 May 2016 SUMMARY REPORT, Issued 16 May 2016.)
  2. RTP (Recreational Trails Program) Grant Application
    Two FNRT-MC grant applications were recently submitted to the Trails Bureau under the Recreational Trails Program for funds to maintain/repair the Trail. Nita Tomaszewski prepared the application, with assistance from Chris Norris and Alex Bernhard and supporting letters from Towns and merchants along the Trail.

    The proposal this year utilized a new approach from the past, which would rely on contracts awarded from bids to perform much of the work, rather than volunteers. The State’s decision on the applications is not expected until November, which may mean that any funds awarded would not be spent until Spring 2017.

  1. Mowing

    Mowing will begin on the Trail soon; probably early July. Peter Southworth has made arrangements with John Schoeller to do this at the same cost as last year.

    The mowing will extend from the point of the Grafton Country Store (about two miles north of the Danbury Town Line) to the end of the Trail in S. Boscawen – approximately 36 miles. Arrangements are being made by Peter Southworth to assist John Schoeller in the opening of gates along the Trail.

Items for Future Action
In the realm of Technology, the much-appreciated voluntary maintenance of the FNRT-MC website by Heather Turner is being re-thought. Heather has recommended conversion to WordPress, which is a more modern format that would allow for self-administration of the site. Peter Southworth will discuss the matter further with Heather and report back.

The possibility of Trail Counts, to determine usage patterns and respond to them, has long been a goal of the Board. Various possibilities were discussed, including the use of a camera. As photographs of Trail users may raise privacy concerns, Tom Frantz has volunteered to get advice from the New Hampshire Attorney General on this question. The matter will be considered again in the future.

The need for a Trail Promotion Strategy was raised. While there was general agreement that FNRT-MC has proceeded through its “establishment phase” and is well involved with a “maintenance agenda,” what a new phase of Trail Promotion would consist of was less clear. The use of “Strava,” a mobile website, was discussed, as was a project for orienting signage along the Trail. These matters will be continued in future discussion.

Summer Projects of Trail improvement and maintenance may be undertaken with FNRT-MC’s own funds, as the State RTP grant, if obtained, will not be available until fall. Alex Bernhard will make proposals at the next meeting.
It was noted that the City of Franklin had provided assistance in ditching operations in Franklin. Steve Rayno was instrumental in obtaining this assistance.
Three Future Dates should be noted: 1) the FNRT-MC tent at the Andover 4th of July celebration; 2) a “Dough Raiser” at the Concord Pizzeria Uno on Aug 22, during which a percentage of all checks – when FNRT-MC is mentioned – will be donated to the organization; 3) the October 1 Rail Trail Rally and Special Olympics, for which planning is underway.

Note next meeting: July 20, Danbury Community Center, 7 PM

Respectfully submitted by George Heaton

Monday, May 30, 2016

May 18 meeting minutes

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FNRT-MC logo
Minutes of Meeting
May 18, 2016
First Congregational Church, Wilmot

Board Attendees: Alex Bernhard, Steve Darling, George Heaton, Lindy Heim, Craig Heim, Charles Martin, Myra Mayman, Jack Shields
Guests: Marion Allen, Charles Cautley, Linda Howes, Ralph Jesseman, Tom Schamberg, Prescott Towle

Co-President Lindy Heim called meeting to order at 7:03 PM; adjourned at 8:40 PM.
The meeting covered: 1) business matters and reports; 2) discussion and resolution of the issue of vegetation control on a small section of the trail in Franklin; 3) authority and plans to proceed with other action items.
Business Matters and Reports:
  1. The Draft Minutes of the April 20, 2016 meeting were approved without alteration.
  2. The Treasurer’s report brought the good news of significant donations in April and May, as a result of the fundraising campaign. These ran at a higher rate than last year, and included a number of employer-matching grants, which are appreciated and encouraged for the future. Total donations for the two months amounted to $5661.90. 

    While funds from the Thursday’s Child event on April 14 have not yet been received, the large turnout that evening bodes well.

    The current balance shows $41,471.63 in unrestricted funds, to be used for the benefit of the Trail.
  3. As presented in Alex Bernhard’s report, preparation of the Recreational Trails Program Grant Application continues, in order to meet the June 3 deadline. Nita Tomaszewski is assembling the application materials, including letters of support that have been gained from the towns along the Trail as well as merchants. The exact specification of projects and requested amounts is being finalized.
  4. Ralph Jesseman presented a report on the Bench Project. We happily anticipate the installation of two benches along the Trail in Andover (near Valley Road in E. Andover, and near the Continental Machine facility) by early June.
  5. The Safety Repairs on the Depot Street Bridge in Franklin have been completed quickly and well -- by Steve Rayno, Chris Norris and Rodney Judkins -- with photos submitted for the record.
  6. FNRT-MC’s presence at Community Events occurred at the bike tune-up/swap in Andover, with Prescott Towle and Lindy Heim staffing a tent. It is hoped that this presence can be annual.
  7. Grant Application for permanent repairs to the Depot St. Bridge has been made to the Brown Foundation by Craig Heim.

Vegetation Control
Over the past several months, the issue of vegetation control on a section of the Trail in Franklin has been researched and discussed in detail. This 6-mile section of the Trail is in danger of serious encroachment from invasive species and other growth, and the Board has therefore been considering the merits of an experimental application of the herbicide Rodeo, in contract with Prescott Towle, a licensed professional applicator.
In preparation for a decision by the Board, various members have contacted scientific experts and public officials in New Hampshire, reviewed the scientific literature, and solicited and listened to advice from concerned citizens.
Jack Shields presented a report on his discussion with the invasive species expert for the State of New Hampshire, in which alternative vegetation control methods were assessed. This research resulted in the recommendation that there were “no feasible alternative effective methods” to a limited herbicide application.
Prescott Towle again presented a detailed application plan, to take place on one day, via liquid application in accordance with all applicable regulations and best practices.
Linda Howes provided citizen input about the potential risks of glyphosate (a principal ingredient in the herbicide), as well as the need for signing to alert residents to the application process.
It should be – and was -- noted that all pesticide applications are subject to approval by the State of New Hampshire, not the Board alone. At this meeting, formal approval from the Department of Agriculture was received as incoming correspondence. It was also reported that the Trails Bureau has been apprised of this action and is likely to issue its opinion soon.
As a result of the above, the Board voted unanimously to take the following actions: 1) authorize Prescott Towle to undertake the vegetation control project in the limited 6-mile section in Franklin, if and when approval from the Trails Bureau is received; 2) post signs – at the beginning and end of the 6-mile stretch -- informing Trail users of the operation on the day it occurs.

Other Action Items
  1. The expenditure of $100 was authorized to allow Steve Rayno to sandblast graffiti from the granite foundation of a bridge on the Trail in Franklin. Given that the bridge is an original railroad structure, the sandblasting expenditure is preferred to painting.
  2. The decision was taken not to pay $50 for an advertisement in the Andover 4th of July celebration program.
  3. Approval was given for Jack Shields to pursue actions to acquire two original historic mileposts, now in the possession of Mr. Sanborn in Boscawen.

The FNRT-MC board of directors would like to invite the FNRT-MC membership and all who love the Northern Rail Trail to venture out on the trail June 6th to celebrate National Trails Day.  It is a lovely time of year to enjoy the beauty and diverse scenery the rail trail has to offer.  And, in the spirit of maintaining all those wonderful views, we invite you to grab a bag to take with you for trail clean-up.
Our season opener Spring Clean-up effort was fabulous, so many people pitched in. Thank you!
Note next meeting: June 15, Boscawen – located to be determined

Respectfully submitted by George Heaton

Sunday, May 8, 2016

April 20 meeting minutes

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FNRT-MC logo
Minutes of Meeting
April 20, 2016
Andover Fire House
Board Attendees: Steve Darling, Tom Frantz, George Heaton, Lindy Heim, Craig Heim, Nita Tomaszewski
Guests: Janice Boudreau, Linda Howes, Ralph Jesseman, and Prescott Towle

Co-President Lindy Heim called meeting to order at 7:03 PM; adjourned at 8:26 PM.
The meeting’s discussion had two major foci: 1) various business matters and reports; 2) discussion of ongoing action items, to be addressed and/or undertaken in the immediate future and/or at the next meeting.
Business Matters and Reports:
  1. The minutes of the March 16, 2016 meeting were approved without alteration.
  2. The Treasurer’s report shows a current balance of $38,416.44 in unrestricted funds, to be used for the benefit of the Trail.
    Recent sources of income include $1336 in donations since the last meeting, as well as funds anticipated from the successful Thursday’s Child benefit dinner on April 14 at the New London Inn.
    Since last meeting, a Federal tax report has been filed (4/8/16), as well as the Annual Report to the State of New Hampshire, and the certification fee for charitable organizations. (3/29/16).
  3. The Recreational Trails Program Grant Application has recently been officially published by the State of New Hampshire. Applications are due June 3, with the anticipation of award decisions by late August.
    An orientation meeting for prospective applicants is being held in Concord during the week of April 25. Nita Tomaszewski will attend, and has been in contact with Alexis Rudko of the Trails Bureau, coordinator for the application process.
  4. Community events will occur in Andover and Franklin on May 14: a bike tune-up/swap in Andover; and Franklin Community Day. Prescott Towle will staff a FNRT-MC tent at the Andover event. Although no one is available for the Franklin event, it was noted for possible participation next year.

Ongoing Action Agenda
  1. Vegetation Control. The issue of vegetation control on the Trail, with particular focus on areas in Franklin, has been the subject of considerable discussion in prior meetings. At this meeting, Prescott Towle was again present to answer questions about the possibility of spraying. And it was noted that the Trails Bureau would need to approve any action in this regard.
    After a wide airing of views, it was decided to postpone further consideration of vegetation control until the next meeting, when more information will be available. At that point, a report will be available from the meeting with the New Hampshire Invasive Species Coordinator, Douglas Cygan, who will assess the Trail and give recommendations.
    [N.B.: A meeting of Doug Cygan with Jack Shields, FNRT-MC Director, had actually taken place before the meeting. However, Jack was unable to report to the Board due to unforeseen circumstances.]
  2. Bench Project. Ralph Jesseman and Janice Boudreau attended the meeting to report on progress to date on the installation of benches along the trail, and what will be the next steps.
    Two Andover sites have been selected as appropriate for benches, and their GPS coordinates forwarded to Alex Bernhard for further action and contact with the Trails Bureau: 1) about 300’ from Valley Road Bridge; 2) about 220’ past the Continental Machine facility.
    Ralph Jesseman will pay for and install these two benches. It is hoped that the documentation of 501(c)(3) status of the FNRT-MC will result in materials discounts at suppliers such as Lowe’s.
  3. Safety Repair of Depot Street Bridge, Franklin
    Having been alerted to the deterioration of railings on the Depot St. Bridge in Franklin, various Board members inspected the site. Their assessment, coupled with a proposal by Chris Norris and Steve Rayno for repair, led the Board to conclude that action should be taken as soon as possible.
    A motion was then made and unanimously approved to authorize the expenditure of up to $300 by Chris Norris to implement repairs.
    The authorization of this expenditure prompted discussion about the need for a process by which small expenditures could be made expeditiously without full Board discussion and approval, and their consequent delay. Such a process will be considered at the next meeting.
    It is understood that the repairs now to be made will not meet Federal design standards or be permanent, but that future maintenance grants, if awarded, should be used to upgrade this site.
  4. Spring Clean-Up of Trail
    Given that snow-cover has left the Trail, the moment to clean debris is at hand, before spring vegetation obscures it. Various Board members volunteered to undertake Trail cleanup, and enlist any others who would like to help.
    Responsibilities are as follows. Anyone should feel free to contact any of those listed:
    Steve Darling – Andover, from Wilmot line to Lawrence St. tunnel –
    Tom Frantz – Andover, from Plains Road to Blackwater Park –
    George Heaton – Danbury –
    Lindy and Craig Heim – Wilmot –
    Chris and Tim Norris – Chance Pond Rd to E. Andover
    Steve Rayno – Franklin

Note next meeting: May 18, Wilmot, 1st Congregational Church, 19 N. Wilmot Rd. in Wilmot Center
Respectfully submitted by George Heaton

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

FNRT-MC, Minutes of Meeting February 17, 2016

FNRT-MC logo
FNRT-MC, Minutes of Meeting
February 17, 2016
Danbury Community Center

Board Attendees: Alex Bernhard, Steve Darling, Heather Deardorff, George Heaton, Myra Mayman, Lindy Heim
Guest: Ralph Jesseman
Co-President Myra Mayman called meeting to order at 7:04 PM; adjourned at 8:50 PM.
Reports and votes on several business matters preceded broad discussion of three major issues: 1) maintenance of the trail, and the application to the State for a grant; 2) possible installation benches along the trail; 3) the use of ATV’s on the trail, especially by mushers.
Business Matters:
  1. The minutes of the January 20 meeting were approved without alteration.
  2. Jack Shields’ proffered resignation from the Board was accepted. While the Board much regrets Jack’s departure – and wishes to thank him wholeheartedly for his service – we are at the same time happy to report that Jack is eager as ever to continue his contribution to the Trail in physical work and good counsel outside the Board context.
  3. The Treasurer’s report shows a current balance of $37,152.51 in unrestricted funds, to be used for the benefit of the Trail. (Also see Budget discussion below.)
  4. A Proposed Budget for Calendar 2016 was presented by Alex Bernhard, discussed, and approved. It is transmitted herewith. As a first approved annual budget of the FNRT-MC, it has the virtue of allowing the Treasurer to pay expenses within approved budget categories without further Board action. And it makes public the financial plans for the organization.

Maintenance Plans, and the RTP (Recreational Trails Program) Grant Application:
In order to move forward with the RTP grant application, Alex Bernhard met with Chris Gamache of the Trails Bureau on the morning of Feb 17. From that meeting and discussion in the evening among the Board, the structure and elements of the RTP grant application have been clarified.
The application is due in late spring, with decisions to be made in the summer, and disbursement of funds in the fall. Preparation of the application will proceed according to this time frame, with Nita Tomaszewski taking the lead, assisted by others, principally Chris Norris and Ricker Miller. Support letters may be needed from various towns and snow mobile clubs, which various Board members will procure in due course.
The meeting with Chris Gamache made it clear that small projects can be aggregated into one overarching application. Current thinking about grant components includes various ditching, culvert cleaning, down to Chance Pond Road). As indicated in the 2016 Budget, there is anticipation of an approximately $22,400 grant application, which implies an approximately $5,600 match from the organization.
The discussion of the grant application also raised the issue of whether to include new bridge railings as a component. Bridge railing would represent a significant increase in scope, and would move the organization into an area that has thus far been pursued by snowmobile clubs. Moreover, the need for and design of bridge railings would require an engineering review and plans.
Given the many maintenance projects in the works, the Board decided to defer any action on railings.
However, the Board would welcome any input from interested parties on how bridge railing improvements can be made, as they will eventually be needed. In particular, a report on status and design possibilities would be much appreciated.

Trail Bench Proposal
Ralph Jesseman came to the meeting with a much-appreciated proposal for benches along the trail, which would provide places of rest and scenic enjoyment for trail users. If installed, these would be placed at sites where there is adequate room, and far enough from the centerline to not impede any trail activity.
The Board voted to proceed with a possible trial of two benches. Ralph will prepare a brief proposal of bench design and materials and appropriate sites; and Alex Bernhard will forward it to the Trails Bureau for approval.

Use of Trail by ATV’s, and Mushers
The issue of ATVs on the Trail has arisen in the context of a recent confrontation between cross-country skiers and mushers who were using ATVs rather than sleds due to thin snow cover. The Mushers Association sent a letter to FNRT-MC reporting on this incident.
The issue was discussed at the Board Meeting, as well as with Chris Gamache of the Trails Bureau. It raises sensitive legal and policy concerns about competing uses of the Trail – and its continued good condition. The Board feels deeply supportive of existing Federal policy against motorized vehicles – with the exception of snowmobiles -- on any trail that was acquired with Federal funds.
The use of ATVs as an alternative to sleds during periods of scant snow cover is not an authorized use of the Trail without a Federal waiver – which does not now exist.. We believe that the allowance of such a waiver could create an unfortunate precedent, which tends to send a mixed message to the public about acceptable use, and could result in increased and destructive ATV use of the Trail.

Future plans, dates of note, and action items include:
Next meeting – March 16, 7 PM, Franklin Regional Hospital
Wednesday, April 63 – 5 PM – Annual Appeal stuffing/mailing party at the Highland Lake Inn
Thursday, April 14 – Thursday’s Child dinner at the New London Inn, for FNRT-MC. All are encouraged to attend and bring friends.
National Trails Day, June 4 – possibilities for involvement in the national celebration of trails will be pursued by Lindy Heim.
Fundraising Dinner, as part of Uno Restaurant “DoughNation” program. Probably in August. Heather Deardorff will pursue

Respectfully submitted by George Heaton