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March 28. 2014 8:10PM

Windham Rail Trail fundraisers will now require town permission

WINDHAM — Selectmen agreed Monday evening to a policy requiring all public fundraisers on the Windham Rail Trail to first get board approval because of parking and liability concerns.

The one exception to that rule would be the two annual races held to raise funds for the trail’s upkeep — the Flat’n Fast 5K held in June and the ConvenientMD 10K held in September.

This year’s events are planned for June 8 and Sept. 28.



Mark Samsel, president of the Windham Rail Trail Alliance, said both races tend to be large draws, raising thousands of dollars each year for the organization.



Samsel said he and Cheryl Haas, the town’s recreation director, receive regular requests from charities and nonprofits asking to host similar events of their own on the trail.



“It’s pretty clear there are so many questions that arise,” Samsel told selectmen this week. “Most of the time these folks aren’t familiar with the logistics of holding a race.”



He added that hosting larger events is always a challenge.

“There are the logistics of parking, of closing down the trail to the public that day,” Samsel said. “We have to address the issues of liability insurance and things like post-event cleanup and event safety.”

With that in mind, Samsel said the two rail trail benefit races should remain the top priority.

“They’re our major fundraisers,” he said. “But I also think having a policy in place would be helpful, because an interested person could look at it and realize we set the bar pretty high.”

Early registration for the June race is $21 per person, or $25 the day of the event. Registrants must also sign a waiver releasing the town of Windham and the Rail Trail Alliance from any potential liability.

Town Administrator David Sullivan said any outside organizations that wish to hold their own road race would need to provide the town with proof of liability insurance.

“That’s why a lot of people back off,” Sullivan said. “It’s a substantial cost.”

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