It was long overdue, but finally, the reality of a multi-use recreational trail in our valley is looming on the horizon. What started as a vision conceived by a small group of citizens over 13 years ago will become a veritable paved path under our feet, wheels and skis. It’s an exciting time in the Mount Washington Valley!
At the Rec Path groundbreaking ceremony in Cranmore on November 3, more than 50 people showed up to celebrate the start of construction. Looking at the smiling faces, I saw a lot of people who made this happen.
There were members of the Mount Washington Valley Trails Association (MWVTA) Recreational Trails Committee who never gave up hope. Although often discouraged by setbacks, they continued to seek possible avenues, support, and funds to build a path. Finally, their dream will come true.
Beside them stood local, state and federal politicians and their representatives. They helped secure the bypass and city grounds for the path. In the end, this group used their influence and support to reduce bureaucratic “red tape” and ultimately get the project approved.
Designers and engineers were also there to witness the culmination of their planning. All of the issues they had solved, the regulations they had adhered to and the permits they had ultimately obtained, brought them to the inauguration to celebrate.
Citizens and local businesses were represented at the ceremony. They all recognized the value of the recreational path for the community. This paved and accessible trail will be a great convenience for residents and visitors to use for transportation and recreation.
The press was there to participate and share the news with the valley. Their promotion of the event and of the Rec Path process allows the public to be informed and involved in this project which benefits everyone.
The group was supplemented by “fundraisers” and grant writers. Whether through their generous donations of time and money or through those of the foundations and organizations they represent, they contributed to the financing of the project. Many of them have actively recruited others to contribute as well. From the smallest donor to the largest, every dollar donated has helped the recreational path become a reality.
As the Conway Rec Path project progresses, more donations will be needed to fill the funding gap and add amenities such as benches and signs to the completed trail. Knowing this valley and its generous people and organizations, I am sure it will happen. Some might say, “We need a village. In the case of the Conway Rec path, it will take a “valley” of engaged citizens. I’m grateful that we have a lot of them to help us get the job done.
To understand how long a journey this has been, I went through the previous columns that I wrote on the recreation trail. My last column “Kids on Bikes” for the Mountainear newspaper (September 12, 2013) was about leisure trails. In “Future Dreams-Cycling Forward”, I spoke about my vision for a valley-wide trail. “I dream of a Mount Washington Valley version of the Stowe Recreational Trail – a trail that could connect a community of users of all ages and types. It would give them other transportation options and a chance to exercise and enjoy the outdoors with safe access to where they want to go. Now, this dream will finally be a real path of leisure!
In the following “Wheel Family Fun” columns in The Conway Daily Sun, I wrote about who needs a leisure path. I’ve listed everyone who would benefit from a valley-wide trail – kids, families, seniors, commuters, athletes, nature lovers and more. People of all ages and abilities could use one. Visitors and residents alike could enjoy a safe path through beautiful scenery.
The community as a whole would also benefit. Studies have shown that areas with recreational trails see property values increase. The increase in business in stores, restaurants and housing due to the arrival of people on a recreational trail could boost the valley’s economy.
Ecologically, the use of a recreational road for non-motorized transportation benefits the environment. Reducing our “carbon footprint” helps us fight global warming.
In a “Wheel Family Fun” column in May 2018 – “It takes a valley to make a recreational path a reality”, I said: “What the valley lacks is safer and more transportable transportation. recreational facilities for everyone, young and old, active or with reduced mobility, visitor or resident We lack a multi-use recreational path.
The recent City of Conway Master Plan stated that “the only major recreation gap in Conway is the lack of an integrated greenway and multi-use trail system.”
It’s exciting to think that a year from now this statement will not be true. The Mount Washington Valley will have a non-motorized multi-use recreational trail. This will be the first link in a chain of valley-wide trails that one day extend from the Fryeburg Mountain Division Trail to Bartlett. These are the dreams of the MWVTA and the Mount Washington Valley community.
On this Thanksgiving, I am grateful to everyone who made the first phase of the recreation path happen. Thank you to all the volunteers, government officials, planners, businesses, organizations, members of the press and fundraisers for your support. This recreational path is a valley-wide community effort. Its success and completion are due to the efforts of many. Thanks everyone!
How to be part of this community project? What can you do to help the path expand into the future? Here are some suggestions:
Ways to make the recreational path a reality:
1. Donate money, offer securities, real estate or paid-up life insurance policies to the MWV Trails Association. You can make a one-time donation or commit to supporting the recreation trail every year. No amount is too small. Donate online: mwvrecpath.org/Donate or mail checks to the MWV Rec Path Committee, PO Box 2298, North Conway, NH 03860.
2. Encourage your friends, affiliates and local organizations to donate as well.
3. Become a member – join the Rec Path committee of the MWVTA. They can always use your expertise, ideas and enthusiasm.
4. Volunteer to help with Recreational Path Committee events. The Community Outreach Committee is looking for individuals who will volunteer their time to help out at events to promote and raise funds for the Recreation Path project. So if you can’t donate money, you can donate time. If you are interested, contact Michelle at [email protected]
It takes a village to create a recreational trail accessible to everyone. Donate your time, funds and mind to this project. It will benefit locals, visitors and people of all ages and abilities for generations to come. Let’s make this happen for the good of all.
Special Announcement! Settlers Green has partnered with the Mt. Washington Valley Rec Path for GivingTuesday! On Tuesday, November 30, purchase a Settlers Green gift card of any amount, and Settlers Green will double it with a donation to MWV Rec Path. Buy gift cards for your friends and family and at the same time support MWV Rec Path. It’s a win-win!
Thank you, Settlers Green, for your generous promotion.
Sally McMurdo is a bicycle safety instructor and cyclist who lives in Conway.