Published DateLACONIA — After operating for over 12 years as an all-volunteer organization, the WOW Trail is now seeking an executive director to help fulfill its mission and objectives. With the very popular Lakeport to downtown section now in place, and the engineering design for the next section (downtown to Belmont) now underway, the group believes the time is right to add some fuel to their efforts.
"We have a very committed group of volunteers and board members" explained Allan Beetle, a board member since inception. "I think everyone wants to see faster progress on fulfilling our mission to build nine miles of trail through Laconia and connect to the county wide trail from Meredith to Franklin".
The WOW Trail has enjoyed tremendous popularity with residents and businesses in Laconia, said Beetle. "Phase I, which brought heartfelt criticism by concerned neighbors to city officials, has been a very pleasant surprise to most. An area that was once a trail of broken bottles and debris has been replaced by beautiful murals and flowers. According to Laconia Police, crime and illegal activities in the immediate area are down substantially."
A recent Economic Impact study conducted by Belknap Economic Development Council concluded that the WOW Trail would bring an estimated 152,000 users out on the trail annually, with 38,000 of those coming from outside the area, generating nearly $1.8 million in new visitor spending.
The WOW Trail conducted its own user count last year and reported, based upon actual counts, an average estimate of over 40,000 users per year on just the Phase I section. The WOW Trail is included in the City of Laconia's Master Plan citing improving tourism, decreasing traffic congestion and improving the quality of life.
"For all of these reasons — the economic impact, the health benefits, the quality of life reasons — we want to speed up the process and we need help to do that" explains Beetle.