HOOKSETT — Construction of the third phase of Hooksett’s Riverwalk Trail is expected to start soon and be completed by this fall, five years after the path along the Merrimack River first opened to the public.
Funding for the half-mile Brick Kiln Historic Loop work comes from an $80,000 state Recreational Trails Program Grant and $100,000 from a warrant article town voters approved in March. The Hooksett Conservation Commission built the first half-mile of the loop in 2019.
Matt Ferrara, a physical trainer from Hooksett who walks the existing two-mile trail with his dog, Gunner, two to three times a week, said he’s looking forward to the addition.
“I think it’s awesome. We always go out to the bridge and take a right and peter off there and always kind of awkwardly turn around so I think it will be great to have it there,” Ferrara said one recent day while walking his dog.
Construction of the loop is set to begin in the next few months. The Town Council recently awarded the project to Belko Landscaping for $143,741. It approved a separate $10,500 contract to cover the work done by the Student Conservation Association.
Cindy Robertson, chair of the Hooksett Conversation Commission, has been working on the trail since work began in 2016.
“I think it’s really important that people do take that time out of every day, or once a week, and take advantage (of it),” Robertson said. “It’s their tax dollars for the people in Hooksett. It’s a beautiful trail, and it’s very beneficial.”
District 2 Town Councilor David Boutin says the outdoors play an important role for residents of New Hampshire.
“The more trails we have, the better opportunities we have for our friends and neighbors to have a place where they can go and walk with their kids,” Boutin said.
People from surrounding communities enjoy using the trail as well.
“I think the trail is phenomenal. I think they keep it up very well,” Pembroke resident Jodi Alexander said one recent day while she was enjoying the trail. “It’s a great place to walk the dogs to get the energy out and have the dogs walk me and get the energy out. It’s always a fantastic place to come.”
The town first began purchasing parcels of land in the area in 2012 and obtaining the necessary permits.
The first phase cost $366,000, which included multiple grants and $100,000 in local taxpayer funds from a previous warrant article. Phase two was priced at $328,000, paid for from the town’s conservation fund.
Robertson said seeing all the planning and hard work coming to fruition inspires her.
“What this trail means to me is that no matter how impossible something seems initially, if you keep working on it little by little by little, it is amazing what you can accomplish,” she said.