Friday, February 8, 2008 
Numerous grants for Goffstown this year


GOFFSTOWN - The town this spring will began the transformation of an old rail line into a vibrant recreational corridor, connecting downtown Goffstown to the Pinardville area.
Earlier this week, the Board of Selectmen was scheduled to hold a public hearing on the acceptance of a $29,385 grant from the New Hampshire Bureau of Trails. The town also has received $2,400 from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in Washington, D.C. The second grant provides the town with the match it needs for federal and state funds.

The larger of the two grants will allow the town to break ground on the first of roughly five miles of the trail. The work will include building a trail head, grading and the laying down of a new nitpack gravel surface, according to Lowell Von Ruden, president of the Friends of the Goffstown Rail Trail.

The second grant, combined with $1,000 Public Service of New Hampshire donated last year, will pay for an engineer to examine how to cross a gap in the trail where there used to be a bridge.

“It is a lifesaver,” said Jim Bingham, the assistant town moderator and town liaison to Friends of the Goffstown Rail Trail. “In order to make this rail-trail construction a reality, it’s contributions like this that help volunteers continue reaching their goal of opening up this trail to the public.”

The trail starts near the Main Street bridge in Goffstown Village, parallels Mast Road and the Piscataquog River, and stops near Sarette Field in Pinardville, close to the Manchester city line. The first mile extends to the north side of Mast Road across from Villa Augustina School.

Bingham said the rail-trail is unique because it will link some of the major recreational centers in town with several schools.

The trail passes close to Goffstown High School, Barnard Park, the Parks and Recreation facility, the county complex, Villa Augustina School, and the Little League fields on Mast Road. It would end near Sarette Field, close to Bartlett Elementary School.

Bingham said the path of the rail-trail makes it easy for residents, especially children, to walk to recreational areas and schools, building a sense of community.

The trail could also become a destination for walkers, joggers, and bicyclists, excepting motorized vehicles, according to the Friends of the Goffstown Rail Trail.

The benefits don’t stop there, Bingham said. Encouraging people to walk to places not only has health and recreational value, it also gets cars off Mast Road, alleviating traffic.

The increased foot traffic, he said, will bring more business to restaurants and stores in Goffstown Village. The rail-trail could also boost the local economy by attracting businesses that cater to rail-trail enthusiasts, such as bicycle shops or ice cream stands.

On the agenda for the Monday, Feb. 4, selectmen meeting were grants for several other town projects.

Two of the grants are related to the preservation of Goffstown’s history and heritage. A private donation of stocks worth $6,335 from Elizabeth Merrill, a Goffstown resident, will bolster the Grasmere Town Hall Restoration Fund. Also, the state is giving the town a $2,797 Certified Local Government grant for historic signs.

An $8,460 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will fund an update to the town emergency management plan.

Selectman Nick Campasano said the town will use the money to shift to a new format, which will specify what functions various town departments and relief agencies can perform during any kind of emergency.

That will allow the emergency director to tailor the response and support to the specific situation, unlike the old one, which planned for a set of stock emergencies, according to Campasano.

Also, a $5,500 Homeland Security grant will pay for interoperable radio equipment, which will improve communication with the other departments in the 20-town Souhegan Mutual Aid Association.

The equipment gives departments the ability to talk to each other directly even though they are on different radio bands. Goffstown Fire Chief Richard O’Brien said that ability is crucial when several departments are responding to a large fire or other major emergency.

Reproduced by the Goffstown Residents Association.


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