Local woman spearheads raising of $13k to build New Hampton Fitness Trail

NEW HAMPTON — In January, Pat Schlesinger, moved by concern at the incidence of childhood obesity and for the health of senior citizens, approached the Board of Selectmen about blazing a fitness trail financed solely by private contributions.

Given a green light, Schlesinger convened a citizens committee and the Selectboard established an expendable trust fund. Last week, the board accepted more than $13,000 raised by the committee and authorized the purchase of the 20 fitness stations with an eye to opening the trail and authorized the purchase of the stations with an eye to opening the trail by autumn.

The trail, a loop of of a little more than half-a-mile, will meander through 99.4 wooded acres, beginning near the foot of Fire House Lane and leading to an overlook on the Pemigewasset River before circling back to its starting point. The fitness stations, each designed to performance a particular exercise, will range along the trail at appropriate intervals. The stations have been ordered at a cost $10,070, and are expected to be delivered in four to six weeks. A second hiking loop of more than a mile, connecting with the fitness trail, is also planned for the site.

Town Administrator Barbara Lucas said that in the meantime Shaun Lagueux, professional forester, will begin marking the trail and locating the stations in anticipation of cutting the trail. Already many have volunteered to assist with the construction of the trail.

So far the committee has raised $13,080, just shy of its initial goal of $13,500, with the aim of collecting at least $16,000 to fund future improvements and maintenance. Schlesinger said that the generosity of both individual and corporate donors, along with offers of in kind contributions, has been impressive. Lucas said that Alex Ray of the Common Man Restaurants has donated $500 and offered to match contributions dollar-for-dollar up to another $500.

"People tell me they love the project," said Schlesinger, "but, they ask 'how are we going to get across Route 104?' When I tell them 'walk,'" she continued "they say 'oh, no we need a bridge to go over it.' Now they're thinking big!."

Contributions can be made to the New Hampton Nature-Fitness Trail and sent to the Trustees of the Trust Fund at the Town Office, 6 Pinnacle Hill Road, New Hampton, NH 03256.