Groton, Townsend Get $20G for Trail

By Hiroko Sato, The Sun, Lowell, Mass.

Oct. 24--TOWNSEND -- Townsend is one step closer to having the Squannacook River Trail built after the task force received a $20,000 state grant for the project.

The state Department of Conservation and Recreation has awarded the funds to the Squannacook River Trail Committee, which plans to create a 3.3-mile trail along the abandoned railroad tracks between the Bertozzi Wildlife Management area near Route 119 in Groton and Depot Street in the center of Townsend. The state money will cover a preliminary environmental and engineering study for the 2.4-mile portion of the trail that lies within Townsend, according to committee member Al Futterman.

The railroad tracks, once used by Boston and Maine Railroad, would be transformed into a recreational trail. The MBTA currently owns the railroad bed, and the Groton and Townsend town governments have copies of a drafted release agreement with the MBTA, which would allow them to use the property for 99 years at a price of $1, said Bill Rideout, assistant chairman of the Trail Committee.

The Squannacook River Trail Committee was formed in 2002 by Rideout and Steve Meehan, both of Townsend, after groups of residents began looking into the possibility of creating a trail there. The committee now has members from Townsend and Groton, including Groton Selectmen Chairman Peter Cunningham, Groton Trails Committee member Bruce Easom and Futterman, who serves as the land programs and outreach director for the Nashua River Watershed Association. Groton selectmen are currently asking Town Meeting to consider spending $10,000 in Community Preservation Act money to conduct an environmental and engineering study for the Groton portion of the trail.

Futterman said the committee is preparing to issue a proposal for quotes for the environmental and engineering study for the Townsend portion of the trail. The study will address various issues, including the failing culvert at the trail site behind Harbor Village Shopping Center and a preliminary needs assessment of screening and barriers for abutting residences on Main Street. Engineers will also look at any possible impact on businesses on the south side of Main Street where the railroad tracks passes.

Engineers are expected to request input from the Groton and Townsend Conservation Commissions on drainage and wetland issues and from Townsend Historical Society on historic buildings near the trail.

Futterman said the committee hopes to have the engineering study done by late spring. The group plans to tap into federal grants for the construction costs.

For more information about the project, visit