By PAUL BASHAM
For the Insider
Dick Lemieux, president of the newly formed Friends of the Merrimack River Greenway Trails Board of Trustees, recently announced the development of a new 14-mile paved bicycle trail from Pembroke to Boscawen. At a projected cost of $13.1 million, the trail will accommodate walkers, joggers and people in wheelchairs, roller blades and strollers as well as those on bicycles. Designing the trail, which will be about 10 to 12 feet wide, will start this year and will become part of a 110-mile bicycle trail between Salem and Lebanon, called the Granite State Rail Trail.
As the name implies, the Merrimack River Greenway Trail will border much of the scenic Merrimack River as it meanders through Concord, which is noted for the 56 miles of hiking trails maintained by the Trails Committee. People using the MRGT will have another way to achieve a healthy life style and enjoy more fully the marvels of nature.
Finances for the project will come from grants and private donations. Lemieux states that a fund raising campaign will soon be established and that Friends of the MRGT has been registered with the state as a non-profit corporation. The trail will not only be an asset to local residents but will also be a boon for area businesses as a tourist attraction.
A major component of the proposed trail is a boardwalk across a marshy area north of Terrill Park, about 3/10 of a mile in length. Audra Klumb, a wetlands specialist, has been very helpful in the early planning stages to map out the best location for the boardwalk.
When FOTMRGT called for volunteers to pick up the litter from one stretch of the proposed trail, almost 100 people signed up. Ron Klemarczyk, city consulting forester, and Matt St.Onge, a member on the Trails Subcommittee of the Concord Conservation Commission, along with volunteers from St. Paul's School soccer team, did much work in removing fallen logs and cutting brush along one section of the trail that is behind the parking lot at 6 Loudon Road, east of the river.
Rebecca Hebert, senior planner for Concord and member of the Trails Committee, said she is excited about the added recreational opportunities that MRGT will bring to Concord.
The meetings of the trustees are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. The board is accepting applications from anyone interested in helping with the development of the trail, including fund raising. For further information you can visit mrgt.org, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out Facebook: "1000 Friends of the Merrimack River Greenway Trail."
Lemieux is a retired highway engineer and transportation planner who has spent more than 36 years in the Federal Highway Administration. He has worked in states like California and Virginia with their extensive highway systems. As a bicycling enthusiast, Lemieux personally sees the need for a bicycle trail away from the busy highway auto traffic. He is working hard to make the Merrimack River Greenway Trail a reality.