City to vote on MRGT funding for extension 

By JAMIE L. COSTA

Monitor staff

Published: 08-24-2023 5:36 PM

City councilors will consider spending $700,000 to extend the Merrimack River Greenway Trail on city-owned land south toward Terrill Park. 

“Building this section of the trail will allow residents and tourists alike unique views of Concord and the Merrimack River,” Parks and Recreation Director David Gill wrote in a report to the council. “This will bring the City one step closer to having a connected trail along the east side of the river from Loudon Road to Manchester Street.”

The total spending would include a blend of grants, bonds and donations. As part of the city’s Capital Improvement Plan, construction of the second phase of the rail trail had been approved but not funded, according to Gill. With all funding now in place, the project is coming before the council, which will hold a public hearing on the matter, at its regular meeting next month. 

If approved, the city will issue $130,000 in bonds for the project and accept $275,000 in grant funding from the national Land and Water Conservation Fund and $300,000 in grants and donations from the Friends of the Merrimack River Greenway Trail. 

The city hopes to move forward in constructing a new section of the rail trail to the west of the farmland along the banks of the river, which is currently the site of Concord’s sunflower festival

Residents are encouraged to attend the City Council meeting on Monday, September 11, to take part in a public discussion about the project and the funding. 

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Looking ahead, the city expects to request more bonds to fund future phases of the project, including the design of a boardwalk that will connect Terrill Park to the cornfields, which the city estimates will cost a total of $4 million to construct during 2027, half of which will be donated while the remainder will come from the city. 

In 2029, they are expected to spend an additional $11 million to complete phases four through eight to extend the trail from Loudon Road to the Contoocook River. The city estimates that 80% of the funding will come from the state while the remaining 20% will be supported through bonds and donations. 

The trail is envisioned to be a continuous, off-street path that follows the Merrimack River and connects to existing rail trail systems to the north and south. It will be accessible year-round for pedestrians, bicyclists, skiers, snowshoers and other nonmotorized uses, according to city documents. 

As part of the Bicycle Master Plan, the extension of the Merrimack River Greenway Trail is a major initiative in serving both transportation and recreation purposes by connecting villages, providing access to the river and adjacent open space and providing safe and inviting health and fitness opportunities. 

For more information about the Merrimack River Greenway Trail, visit the project’s website online

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