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March 11. 2013 8:58PM

For Londonderry rail trail group, a big mile to go

LONDONDERRY - As residents head out to vote today, supporters of the Londonderry Rail Trail project are urging local support for Article 14, which would allow organization officials to pave a one-mile segment of the emerging bike and pedestrian path.

If passed, the $227,000 petitioned warrant item would have a tax impact of 7 cents per thousand dollars of assessed property value. The paved trail segment would stretch from North School on Sanborn Road to the Exit 5 Park and Ride at Symmes Drive, with a 10-foot-wide paved pathway replacing a former railroad bed. Londonderry Trailways spokesman Bob Rimol said the total amount of construction would be partially funded by contributions the organization is in the process of raising.

"Tuesday is a critical point in the development of the Rail Trail," said Rimol, an 18-year Londonderry resident who's seen vast improvements to the town's schools, facilities and recreational facilities over that course of time.

"Now it's time to take the next step forward to create a recreational asset that we can all enjoy," Rimol said. "Londonderry is a destination community where we all want to live, and we are seeing the value of our homes stay healthy due to a strong commitment within our community and a great quality of life."

"Hopefully we can move forward with the next positive addition to our town," he said.

Rimol and Sandra Lagueux, Trailways vice president, submitted the petitioned warrant article in early January.

The Londonderry Trailways group was formed in 1999, and the town council authorized them to begin researching ways to turn the town's unused former railway corridor into a place for passive recreation about three years ago. Preliminary engineering studies on the site were completed through independent fundraising and gave the group a better idea of project costs.

In the meantime, volunteers have been hard at work clearing the trail and removing debris from the site. Recently, the group received a $20,000 state recreational trails grant that allowed them to complete grading along the trail.

However, efforts were stalled earlier this year when Trailways officials learned from the state Department of Transportation that there would be no more funds available for grant programs in 2013, leading them to think outside the box.

"This idea of a citizen's petition came about for us to try and continue making notable progress without being tied down to the federal funding process," Lagueux said.

Once completed, the former railway beds will be converted into a 6.4-mile long, 10-foot-wide paved pathway, connecting to similar projects in Derry, Windham and Manchester. Voting on all town and school warrant items will take place today at Londonderry High School.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For more information, visit www.londonderrytrails.org.

aguilmet@newstote.com


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