After the grand opening celebration for Phase Two of the Rail Trail on June 20, the Londonderry Trailways saw a surge of donations come in for the next portion of the trail.
The group received about $900 in donations by June 30, according to Trailways spokesperson Pollyann Winslow.
“People are recognizing they like it and they want to see it go further,” she said of the Rail Trail.
At the grand opening celebration, which was held in the parking lot of the Park and Ride Center at Exit 5 off Interstate 93, Winslow said “everyone was anxious to ask when the next section is going to be done.
“A lot of people who use the trail are anxious to get into the next section, with its pristine waterways and heavily wooded areas. The section we last completed was a connector section. It’s not as interesting because it goes behind some businesses. Once we get the next section in, it will go back into a really beautiful area,” she said.
But Winslow notes it’s important for patrons of the Rail Trail to understand new segments are only possible with the support of the community.
“We’re trying to make sure people understand that’s how it’s getting funded. The first section was paid through funding of the Warrant Article, and the next section by private donations,” she said. “If the Trailways ask for funds on the ballot, they could do that, but every donation helps. We would want that article to pass at the lowest price possible. It’s not right to ask for the full amount of something, because that doesn’t show community support. If you can say people are contributing, we only need this much more to make it happen, that’s the way to be part of a community. We want this to be a community process.”
And with people using the second portion of the trail to get closer to Manchester, the Trailways are hoping frequent patrons, particularly those who ride their bikes, will want to make a big effort.
“Everyone from the other communities are working on their trails. It feels like a bigger community than just our own town. Let’s make New Hampshire a destination for the Rail Trail,” she said.
If the Trailways are to bring enough money in before next spring, Winslow said it’s possible the community could celebrate another grand opening event next year.
The project will require engineering work, but the trail is mostly clear and paving won’t take long, according to Winslow.
“We want people to know we have a goal. It’s important to be moving ahead,” she said, noting the group has some money available from a grant they secured last year, and Stonyfield Farm has committed to a donation.
“Stonyfield is just so interested in seeing this because organic yogurt lends itself to people who want to get outside, and healthy, and fit. And they are seeing the sooner the trail gets closer to Manchester, the sooner their employees will be able to utilize it,” she said. “We have submitted all the paperwork, and we expect the donation to be forthcoming.”
The Londonderry Conservation Commission has also committed $100,000 of the Town’s Land Use Change Tax toward construction costs to complete the 1.4 mile stretch connecting Liberty Drive to Seasons Lane. The segment will run past a peat bog and other conservation land in town, providing access to all residents, notably the elderly, disabled and families with strollers.
The Conservation Commission funding is contingent upon Londonderry Trailways obtaining the balance of the funding needed to complete the project.
Trailways Chairman Bob Rimol estimates the total cost of the project will be $400,000.
With construction on I-93 moving north toward Londonderry and plans for Woodmont Commons moving forward, Rimol has said it’s important they raise the funds as soon as possible, as construction services can often be contracted at a reduced cost when done in conjunction with another project.
The Trailways will have a booth at the Old Home Day celebration on Aug. 15, and residents are encouraged to stop by and ask questions about the trail, view maps showing where the Rail Trail is located and new portions are proposed, or offer suggestions.
“We are going to just keep going, one step at a time,” Winslow said.