takes aim at recreation
By STEPHEN BEALE
GOFFSTOWN - Town officials are hoping that Goffstown can overcome lagging economic development by making the town a destination for recreation.
When it comes to attracting economic development here, the obstacles are obvious, according to officials familiar with local land use. Unlike Bedford, Goffstown does not have three highways passing through it and is not close to an airport. Goffstown has limited municipal water and sewer service and much of the available commercial and industrial land is owned by the county.
Members of the town economic development council now are taking a new tack, shifting focus from what the town lacks to what it does have—twin mountains, a river and lake, and well over 40 miles of hiking trails, much of which are unknown to the general public.
One member of the town economic development council, Alan Yeaton, is on a mission to collect old maps, anecdotes, and other tips on the paths less traveled, putting it all into one guide that the town could distribute to visitors. “It’s like a hidden, nice thing to do,” Yeaton said.
The idea is that hikers, bikers, and other outdoors enthusiasts might become customers at local businesses. “It will bring some people into town and while they’re in town we hope they will take time to visit some of the shops and some of the restaurants,” said Al Desruisseaux, chairman of the economic development council.
Council members also believe that emphasizing recreation might catch the attention of outdoor-oriented businesses that might move to Goffstown.
So far, Yeaton has unearthed plenty of unpublicized trails. He said a local snowmobile club, the Uncanoonuc Mountaineers, counts 42 miles of trails used by its members.
Some Yeaton has found on his own. One trail connects his Hillcrest Road home in northern Goffstown to Glen Lake, a distance of 2.5 miles that involves crossing just one road. He says it also is possible to walk on old farm roads from his house to downtown Dunbarton, traversing paved roads twice.
One of the areas that remains unknown happens to be the most visible: the twin peaks of the Uncanoonuc Mountains. “Who can tell me where the ‘White Dot’ trail is?” Yeaton said. “Because I asked people at the hardware store.”
Aside from a small paved pull-over on Mountain Road and scattered white dots in the opposite forest, there is no sign, booth with brochures or maps, or other indication that the trail is there. Father up the road, is a wider trail concealed between two stone walls. Holding a 1934 map of the two mountains, Yeaton points out numerous other routes to the summits. He says he has yet to find one map with all the trails on it.
“So I look at it and I say, none of that is out there—some of it’s out there—but every now and then I run into people who say, “Oh yeah, I’ve hiked up there,’ Yeaton said. “I say, ‘Where did you come from?’”
At lower altitudes, members of the economic development council see potential along the Piscataquog River. Desruisseaux said the council thinks the town should turn an unused sewer pump station near the river off East Union Street into a launch for kayaks.
One well-publicized recreational opportunity will soon be a reality. Backed by two state grants and commitments from volunteers, the town this fall will be grading and laying out gravel on a section of the 5.5-mile “Rail Trail” that connects Goffstown Village with the Pinardville area.
Yeaton said additional state grant money might be available to create other trails in town. He is still collecting tips on hiking trails in Goffstown and can be reached at 497-2787 or