April 06, 2020

Council OKs trails pact participation

BANGOR – New recreational trails, connections among existing ones and a strategy for getting it all done are the main objectives of a three-way pact the city signed onto Monday night, joining up with two like-minded local groups.

The Bangor Land Trust and Keep Bangor Beautiful boards approved their roles in the venture earlier this month.

During their regular meeting at City Hall, city councilors authorized the city’s participation in the partnership.

“We appreciate your attention to this,” Keep Bangor Beautiful Vice President Heather Parent said. “We’re looking forward to moving ahead.”

The Bangor Trails project memorandum of understanding establishes a nine-member committee composed of representatives from the city and the two groups.

The committee will study the existing trail system, consider the best places to create new trails, develop fundraising strategies, work with property owners, acquire trail easements, oversee the construction of new trails and supervise trail maintenance.

Land trust President Lucy Quimby noted that the trails project dovetails nicely with the findings of the recently released Brookings Report.

The report, a study of Maine’s economy, advises the state to dramatically cut administrative spending and take part in a few critical investments, chief among them, those that preserve Maine’s “quality of place,” its outdoor activities, scenic countryside and small towns.

Councilor Annie Allen asked during the meeting if regular residents will be represented on the committee.

Councilor Geoffrey Gratwick, who is married to Quimby, said that the land trust and Bangor Beautiful are “the perfect citizen organizations” because they arose out of popular need.

Barrett said he expected that the trails committee will reach out to a variety of trail users, including mountain bikers, hikers and walkers.

Allen noted that in the mid-1990s the Bangor Region Chamber did a great deal of trails work, though with a regional focus.

Firefighter Ron Greene Jr., president of the city’s firefighters’ union, said that some of the city’s existing trails are rugged and remote, difficult for rescuers and firefighters to reach in the event of emergencies.

He suggested that the city consider acquiring equipment, such as an all-terrain vehicle, able to get to such areas.

Allen’s attempt to add a representative from the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce and the local emergency medical services community to the nine-member committee failed.

Though there has been a great deal of interest in such a project in the past, it really began to pick up momentum this spring after Bangor Land Trust and Keep Bangor Beautiful launched the Bangor Trails Project, an ambitious, citywide plan to make Bangor a city for walkers and bike riders.

As part of the public rollout, residents were invited to mark out their favorite existing trails, as well as trails they would like to see built.

In recent months, the city and the two groups have hammered out a memorandum of understanding aimed at turning the community’s trail dreams into reality.

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