10 Questions: Bill Rideout, go-to guy for the Squannacook River Rail Trail
Sentinel & Enterprise
POSTED: 04/11/2016 06:53:09 AM EDT
By Anne O'Connor


TOWNSEND -- Bill Rideout is the go-to guy when it comes to talking about the Squannacook River Rail Trail. It will run between Townsend Center and the Bertozzi Wildlife Management Area in Groton, with a hoped-for construction start date in spring 2017.

Rideout also has another, somewhat unusual, way to enjoy himself.

Q: When did you first become involved with the rail trail?

A: The bike trail goes back to 2003, when Al Futterman (from the Nashua River Watershed Association) first started proposing this project.

Q: Why did the bike trail capture your attention?

A: I grew up in a town where kids basically lived on their bikes. I thought my kids would miss that.

Q: How many were involved in that first meeting?

A: The great thing about this, it started out with just Steve (Meehan) and I and Al. It was a very small group.

Q: How did the group grow?

A: People come out of the woodwork to help you, extraordinarily talented people, Joan (Wotkowicz) with writing grants, people who are good with conservation issues.

Q: What do you bring to the group?

A: My special talent, they will all tell you this, is I'm too stubborn to give up easily, or too foolish.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you have faced in making this sometimes controversial trail into a reality?

A: I've never been a zealot about doing things.


This trail affects people in various ways. We've come to compromise.
Q: Is the committee on board with compromising?

A: We've taken that attitude. Every rail trail has people who are nervous and are worried about change. The issues we have faced in Townsend are no different than what other rail trails have done.

Q: How will the trail benefit the community? At only five miles, it is relatively short and it will not be paved.

A: We see it very much as a community type of thing. I see it as the town plaza of the future.

Q: How can people help?

A: We are just about to publicize our buy-a-brick program. On Earth Day, we're having a trail cleanup. We don't yet have the location.

Q: And finally, in a question totally unrelated to the trail, why did you become a Minuteman in 2007 for the town's 275th anniversary?

A: The citizens of Townsend actually marched to the Lexington and Concord battles, although they didn't make it until the end. It led to our experiment with democracy. It's just an interesting period in history.

Visit www.squannacookriverrailtrail.org or www.facebook.com/SquannacookRiverRailTrail for the latest rail-trail updates.

Follow Anne O'Connor on Twitter and Tout @a1oconnor.