MANCHESTER — A city man, upset by the noise from car, truck and motorcycle traffic on what is supposed to be a tranquil tree-lined trail for walkers and bicycle riders, is tired of waiting for the city to take action.
William Trombly said the section of the Rockingham Recreational Trail from Mammoth Road to Page Street is being abused, especially at night and on weekends. The trail is on the abandoned Boston & Maine Railroad right of way.
Trombly, who said he was the victim of a burglary about five years ago, is convinced the burglars used the trail. He said they broke a trail-side window and stole a number of items from his home, including a bag of coins his father left him. His proof is that some of the things taken were found buried near the end of the trail behind CVS on Mammoth Road.
He installed an alarm system after the break, but said: “I felt like a prisoner. I wasn't used to that.”
He wouldn't call it patroling, but he walks his dog along the path and sometimes picks up plastic bags that otherwise blow around and get caught in the trees.
He said that heavy use of the trail by vehicles is not only annoying, but also dangerous, and he said police don't patrol the area.
Trombly has been calling and e-mailing city department heads and aldermen. He copied to the New Hampshire Union Leader an e-mail he sent to the mayor, aldermen and some departments. “If the city wants this path then I ask as an abutter, protection and privacy. And if the city can't do that, close it down. Even with walking people leave trash and I am sick of picking the city's junk up.”
The trail was quiet Friday afternoon. A pregnant woman and her husband and another man walking on the trail passed by Trombly's residence headed west and two people walked off the trail, possibly cutting through from the Hanover Street shopping center across the trail from Trombly's home.
Highway Director Kevin Sheppard said: “We've been trying to develop that trail.” The work is done as time and resources allow, Railroad ties were removed, the trail was graded and ground asphalt paving was spread on the trail this spring.
Parks Chief Peter Capano said plans call for paving the section of the Rockingham trail that passes by the side of Trombly's property, as was done with the Piscataquog Trail on the West Side, also part of the Rails to Trails program.
Capano said the paving of the Rockingham Trail should have a significant effect on usage because it will then be more attractive to walkers, bicycle riders and wheelchair users.
Sheppard said the project is not yet at the stage where the city could apply, through the state transportation department, for a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program grant, an 80-20 funds match program.
One of Trombly's complaints, the lack of barrels for trash, isn't going to be fixed. Sheppard said the city is sticking to the park system policy of carry in/carry out, because trash barrels could cause more problems.
Trombly's complaints did get some action from the police department. He said he called the police last Saturday about a car on the trail and provided a description and plate number, but no one showed up.
Community Policing commander Capt. Rick Reilly said he sent out a couple of officers Friday morning to assess the situation, including accessibility, but said: “It's a dificult area to patrol.”
While he's a big supporter of the city trail system, he said: “They do present a challenge.” He said he is hopeful that with barriers at both ends of that wooded stretch, the problems will diminish.
Trombly's complaints have prompted some efforts to control use of the trail by gas-powered vehicles. Two Jersey barriers were placed across the entrance to the trail behind CVS, leaving a space between them intended only to permit passage by a walker or a bicyle. Strollers would fit, but, hopefully, motorcycles won't.
Sheppard said when road work on Page Street is completed, posts will be installed at the Page Street end of the trail to block vehicle access. For now, heavy equipment used in the road work is parked to block entry when crews are not working, but Trombly said people have been going around the equipment to access the trail.