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