Bethel trails effort sees mixed results
The Mahoosuc Pathways trails group is encountering obstacles in its effort to forge the final link in a trail from Bethel Village to Telstar.
But the group is having better luck on a trail and bike lane out the North Road to Angevine Park.
Mahoosuc Pathways is also working to get funding for a sidewalk from the Bethel Pathway to Lower Main Street.
Pathway to Telstar
The Pathways group has been working on extending the Pathways trail from its current end point on the Mahoosuc Land Trust’s Gateway Parcel, next to Sunset Road, to Telstar. The remaining distance is about .7 mile.
“It’s densely settled – a lot of private landowners,” said Landon Fake, executive director of Mahoosuc Pathways. “We’re looking for easements that the town would hold. We’ve tried different routes. We get optimistic, then we find out, no, that doesn’t work. It’s always a juggling act, because if you get three landowners excited and they want to do it, then the fourth one will often come along. But if three of then are saying, ‘Well, I don’t know about this,’ then everyone else says, ‘I don’t know, either.’ We’ve had a half dozen plans, anyway, since 2009.”
There are about eight property owners along the possible routes, he said.
Fake said he’s confident if the trail could find its way to Telstar, it would see a lot of use.
On the other side of town on the North Road, Mahoosuc Pathways hopes to create a bike lane from Route 2 to the airport, and then a trail across private land to Angevine Park. The distance from Route 2 to the park is about two miles.
“We have an option to get through the airport, on either side of the runway,” he said.
From there MP is finding it easier to work with property owners, most of whom are businesses. Again, there are about eight landowners involved.
If a route can be secured, said Fake, “We’re hopeful, as in the past, to get local contractors and local businesses to help. On the existing Pathway there was a lot of in-kind work done. That helped out a lot.”
He estimated the value of the in-kind work at around $100,000.
MP recently helped Bethel apply for an MDOT grant of $40,000, with a 20 percent town match, to create the bike lane.
The town has also applied for another grant, for $34,000 with a 20 percent match, to extend the sidewalk from the intersection of Cross and Main streets to the intersection of Railroad and Main streets, a distance of 250 feet.
Bethel will find out next spring if the applications are successful.
MP also hopes to put improved signage in place along the Pathway before the end of the year, as well as create a comprehensive signage plan for all town recreational facilities.
For people interested in other outings, including day hikes, Mahoosuc Pathways has posted between 15 and 20 local walking and hiking trails on the website mainetrailfinder.com. There are descriptions of the trails, and the trails themselves are shown on Google Maps.
Examples include Round Mountain Trail in Albany, Mt. Will in Bethel, and the trail behind the Mahoosuc Land Trust building in Bethel.
“They’ve started to get a lot more use,” said Fake. “It’s been noticeable, the number of people I’ve seen out on the trails locally.”
He said this year Round Mountain saw about 40 hikers register to hike the trail, compared to two last year.