LACONIA — The City Council is scheduled to take up a resolution Monday supporting construction of new segments of the WOW Trail that will avoid legal battles between the city and those opposed to a proposal that would have meant pulling up some train tracks and have the trail run through waterfront neighborhoods.
The resolution represents a retreat by the council from an earlier proposed resolution that supported efforts to remove the railroad tracks between Northfield and Weirs Beach in order to make room for the multi-use, non-motorized recreation trail.
The council tabled that resolution in the face of strong opposition by representatives of gated communities, a tourist train, and a freight railroad at a council meeting last November. The council subsequently tabled the resolution.
One of those who opposed that resolution was City Councilor Andrew Hosmer, who since has become mayor.
On Friday, Hosmer said he sees the resolution as a way to move the WOW Trail forward in a way that avoids prolonged and costly litigation.
While 8 miles of the WOW Trail have been completed, 10 miles are still to be constructed, including a 4-mile section between Lakeport and The Weirs. Building the Lakeport-Weirs segment along the rail line would entail it running past gated communities where some residents don’t want to see a public trail near their property.
The latest resolution calls for the formation of a blue-ribbon committee comprising representatives of the WOW Trail Board, homeowners’ associations from Paugus Park Road, South Down Shores, and Long Bay Estates, the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad, and the city.
The mayor hoped that, if the council passes the resolution, the blue ribbon panel could start meeting in about a month.
Hosmer said the WOW Trail board recently voted unanimously to support the resolution. Hosmer said the aim of the resolution is “consistent” with the views he has heard in discussions he has had with people in Long Bay and Paugus Park.
The mayor said he has been advocating a compromise on the WOW Trail’s location for about two years. He said homeowner groups have indicated to him that “they are agreeable at looking at alternate routes” for the trail.