CLAREMONT — The Bobby Woodman Rail Trail begins at Pleasant Street and ducks behind the Community Center, skirts Monadnock Park, crosses the river on an iron bridge and emerges between businesses on Washington Street to follow the busy Golden Mile as far as Home Depot.
The parks and recreation department has proposed moving a section of the trail from where it runs along Washington Street to alongside the river. Director Mark Brislin said the new section would run from the bridge to VIP Auto, requiring some gates, new hardpack surface, and guard rails.
“The gates would help with safety and prevent motorized vehicles from using the trails,” said Brislin.
Citizens have previously complained to the city that motorized vehicles park on or next to the trail, and that some people drive on it.
Brislin asked the city council’s approval for a grant application. The New Hampshire Recreational Trails grant for Short Term Improvements would provide 80 percent of the cost and the city would need to come up with 20 percent. “It would involve engineering and some work along the river bank,” he said.
The city would trade the businesses the strip of land along Washington Street for their land along the river.
Mike Hurd, one of the business owners who would be affected, said he’s in favor. “I own probably two thirds of the future expansion area,” he said. “Myself and Scott [Reed of Reed Truck Services] think it’s a great idea to move the trail, to get the traffic and snowmobiles off the businesses. We’re willing to work with parks and rec. to make it better for everybody.
“We’d use what we’re using now, but it would be ours instead of the city’s,” said Hurd. Hurd owns Maurice Auto and Truck.
Reed said the trail was always a concern because it drew wheeled motorized vehicle traffic, and the vacant land along the river invited problems. A footpath along the bank wends between dumpsters and sheds until it meets the trail at the bridge.
“We’ve had 30 years of vandalism and homeless people living in trucks back there,” Reed said. “Now you see people jogging and riding bikes along the trail, it’s a little bit more what it’s intended for.”
Scott Hinckley, whose family owns land between Mike Hurd’s business and the autoparts store, said they would like to see gates on the trail. In previous city council meetings another Hinckley has complained about motorized vehicle use of the trail.
The council approved the grant application.
Artwork at the skate park
In other parks and recreation news, Brislin told the city council a group of skateboarders would like to add artwork to the park.
Ernie Perry, an art teacher at Fall Mountain School and Stevens High School graduate, would supervise his students, who are avid users of the Sarah B.H. Smith Riverside Park, in painting artwork on some of the ramps.
No action was required by the council. Acting City Manager John MacLean spoke in favor of the project. “Artwork could really add to make Claremont a more exciting and vibrant place.”
Melissa Richmond, of the parks and recreation commission, said the art would be temporary since the park is due to be resurfaced in the near future.