BELMONT — After 14 years of planning, town land use technician Rick Ball said the Belmont Recreation Trail is a few steps away from going out to bid.
Ball said yesterday that they are waiting for all the snow to melt at which point the state will finish the "categorical exclusions" or historical and environment impact study. He said he expects no issues.
He said a minor design change need to be made behind the Agway Store on Rte. 3 because the owners of two abutting properties would like to see a bank of mature oak trees saved — something Ball said was preferable to cutting them down.
"As soon as those things are done we can negotiate money to pay for the easements," he said.
In March, voters approved the final chunk of town money needed to complete the $960,000 first phase of the trail by allowing money held in a special purpose fund for a different segment of the trail to be used for this one.
This segment will run from the Mosquito Bridge on the Belmont-Tilton-Sanbornton line to the Laconia city line. Laconia continues to design its section that will connect the existing Laconia portion with Belmont's.
Ball said federal law prohibits the town from discussing easement payments with trail abutters at this point but once the state determines there are any historical or environmental issues and a new route around the oak trees is determined, he can begin the negotiations.
After negotiations with land owners, he said the trail will be preliminarily designed with preliminary specifications and an estimate. At that point Ball said the Department of Transportation will issue the final plan specifications.
If the construction and engineering comes in under budget, the project will go to bid.
Ball said at this point in time, the project appears to be well within the allocated budget.
For those who would like for information the BRATT (Belmont Recreation Alternative Trail Team) is hold a meeting on April 24 at 7 p.m. at the Corner Meeting House.