Tuesday, March 1, 2016

FNRT-MC, Minutes of Meeting February 17, 2016

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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

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