By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
MEREDITH — The Village Pathways Committee this week unveiled the designed the design of the Hawkins Brook Nature Trail, almost six-tenths of a mile passing through wetland and woodland to link Meredith Bay and Prescott Park.
Josh Ryan of Timber & Stone, LLC of East Montpelier, Vermont, who has designed dozens of trails in a half a dozen states, took residents on a virtual tour of trail, emphasizing that it is designed to be accessible to all, including those requiring wheelchairs.
Ryan said that 1,665 feet of the trail would be surfaced with stone dust while the remaining 1,450 feet would consist of a boardwalk fashioned from the wood of the black locust. Where the boardwalk is 30 inches or more above the ground it would be railed with white oak and elsewhere it would be be curbed. The trail would be studded with five observation decks and one bridge along its length.
Angela LaBrecque, the town planner, said that since the project was originally conceived five years ago the committee has been working closely with the schools, which have incorporated the ecology of the Hawkins Brook watershed in the science curriculum. She said that the observation decks are designed to serve as outdoor classrooms and placed to offer access to both wetland and upland environments.
"The trail will be an incredible resource for the schools," she said.
LaBrecque said the committee is in the process of seeking wetland permits from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. She said the cost of constructing the trail is estimated to fall between $417,000 and $448,000 depending on the materials used and the project will be financed by donations and grants. She said that because the trail is accessible to so many different constituencies serves so many constituencies, the project will be eligible for an array of grants.
In 2018 Meredith will celebrate its 250th anniversary and LaBrecque is hopeful that the ribbon on the Hawkins Brook Nature Trail will be cut in time for the festivities.
The proposed route of the Hawkins Brook Trail. (Courtesy graphic/Google maps)
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