Category Archives: Next Steps

Lebanon and State of NH Reach Westboro Rail Yard Agreement

Westboro Rail Yard

After years of stasis on making land in the Westboro Rail Yard publicly available, state and city officials last week met to talk over a potential sale of 6.7 acres of state-owned land along the Connecticut that could, at some point, become a park and provide a link through West Leb to the Mascoma River Greenway and Northern Rail Trail. They reached a tentative agreement, reports Patrick Adrian in the Valley News: The city will buy the land for an undetermined price, the state will remove existing contaminants. There is a long list of official sign-offs to come.

A New Way to Ride The MRG!

Thanks to grants from the AARP Community Challenge program and the Granite State Wheelmen, Friends of the Northern Rail Trail (FNRT) and Lebanon Recreation, Arts, and Parks have collaborated to bring Cycling Without Age to Lebanon’s MRG and NRT Trails. This international program connects volunteer cyclists with seniors and others with mobility restrictions to enjoy a ride on the Trails. We’re building our team of “pilots” now!

If you would like to learn more about becoming a trishaw pilot and upcoming trainings, contact Sean.dittrich@gmail.com 

To support this program in other ways, contact Amyjwchan@gmail.com. 

For a 3 min video introduction to the program, check out 

Walk, Bike, Ride, Leb: Online Survey

Over the years, progress has been made toward improving the safety and comfort of walking and bicycling in the City of Lebanon. Some notable achievements include the construction of the Mascoma River Greenway, improved pedestrian safety along the Miracle Mile, addition of sidewalks, and the adoption of a Complete Streets policy

However, Lebanon has never had a comprehensive, citywide plan for walking and bicycling. Once completed, this plan will identify specific actions that the City can take to develop a safecomfortable, and connected walking and bicycling network, including connections to public transportation services. 

The plan will inform how walking and bicycling improvements factor into future City budgets and Capital Improvements Programs, which grant opportunities are pursued, and how new and existing developments can be connected into the walking and bicycling network. Taking a City-wide approach will help identify the highest-priority improvements that can be achieved with limited resources and funding.

Walk, Bike, Ride Leb – Online Survey

What would help you and others to get around Lebanon by foot, bike and bus more often–and with less stress? Take a visual stroll with us through the Walk, Bike, Ride Leb plan’s themes and take a brief survey to share your thoughts with the City of Lebanon decision-makers. Access the Public Input Portal here.

 Learn more at https://lebanonnh.gov/WalkBikeRideLeb.  

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Looking eastward under Hanover Street bridge toward the downtown Mall

Though it will be many months before the work is completed, it’s encouraging to see progress toward connecting the Mascoma River Greenway to the Northern Rail Trail via the tunnel. The Mall parking area, that once formed the roof of the tunnel, has been removed. (See the plan for how it will eventually look.) There is a plan for major work to be done on the Hanover Street bridge next summer, which is likely to delay tunnel use, but step by step we are moving forward.

 

MRG Planting – Action for Climate Strike Week

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Join Upper Valley Apple Corps and the MRG Pollinator Corridor Project for a day of planting fruit trees and berry bushes along the Mascoma River Greenway. We are “Planting for Solutions” as a part of the global strike week to raise awareness about climate emergency.  With funding from the Robert F. Church Charitable Trust, we will be planting organic fruit trees and berry bushes in support of pollinators, wildlife, and even hungry humans.

WHEN: Saturday, September 21st, 10:00-3:00 pm with a lunch break at 1:00 pm

WHERE: Park across from Alice Peck Day Homestead Building and walk west along the Mascoma River Greenway to the next parking lot ~ 500 yards.

WHY: To be a part of the solution, to have fun with community, and to learn to plant and care for fruit trees!

Bring gloves, water, and lunch. Tools and cider will be provided.

RSVP or Questions? Please contact: Karen@permaculturesolutions.org

Goats NOT Herbicides!

Eco Goats

As we expand our MRG Pollinator Corridor to support healthy habitat for bees, butterflies, birds, and other creatures, it is especially exciting to learn of the Lebanon Recreation & Parks Department’s plans for controlling poison ivy: “Goats NOT Herbicides.”

The pilot project will begin Tuesday, September 3, 2019 at Riverside Community ParkCivic Memorial Park, Basin Field, and on the Mascoma River Greenway near the public art sculpture “Wheels”.

The goats and sheep will be fenced in around their browsing (eating) areas containing poison ivy, which will include shade and water for the animals. The animal’s caregivers will also be onsite.

For some “Goats 101” if you stop by to see them at one of these sites:

  • Respect the herders and listen to what they say; they are here to keep the animals safe and need your cooperation.
  • Please do not try to pet the animals; goats can eat and be exposed to poison ivy with no harm to them, but touching the goats exposed to poison ivy oils can affect humans.
  • Keep dogs on a leash at all times.
  • Please remember good trail etiquette and slowdown in the work zone.
  • If you would like to stop and watch the animals, please stand off the trail to allow other users to pass safely.

Lebanon is not alone in experimenting with goats for poison ivy control.  This is the second year that Montpelier, VT has used goats to control poison ivy along the city’s recreational path. They’ve been used in Londonderry NH too. (Goats will eat invasive Japanese knotweed as well. )

We look forward to seeing how this pilot project goes in hopes that we can utilize this method in the future.

Thanks to Lebanon Recreation & Parks Director, Paul Coats, for pursuing this non-toxic method of poison ivy control!

MRG – A Work in Progress

The Mascoma River Greenway is still a work in progress.  The closing of the tunnel under Lebanon’s downtown mall has stymied our linking to the Northern Rail Trail; renovations of the tunnel and the mall are scheduled for summer 2020. The connection to White River Junction on the western end is still in search of a solution. There are other items on the drawing table:

  1. A map of the MRG with parking and access points and distances between points is being created by Dartmouth’s Thayer School students. Way-finding signage is also in progress.
  2. Kiosks are being repaired and built – they will display the above map and other items of interest.
  3. Benches are purchased and awaiting installation. 
  4. A pollinator corridor is being created. There are currently four gardens with more plantings planned. (More info)

The MRG is a well-used and much enjoyed resource and will continue to improve over time. In the meantime, it has been great to see runners, bikers, dog walkers, baby strollers, roller-bladers, birders, wildflower enthusiasts, skateboarders, skate-skiers, snow-shoers, cross-country skiers, and young children learning to ride bikes, all actively enjoying this wonderful resource.

Tunnel Restoration Project Presentation

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Current plans for the renovation of the tunnel and the Lebanon Mall were presented this evening, with construction beginning Spring 2020. We are making our way toward connecting the MRG to the Northern Rail Trail. You can see illustrations of the redesign of the mall and what the interior of the tunnel will look like at https://lebanonnh.gov/DocumentCenter/View/9735/Community-Conversation-Presentation-5-02-2019  (You may find the most useful photos toward the end of the presentation.)

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(Note the skylight which will bring natural daylight into the tunnel.)

 

 

MRG Pollinator Planting Plan – Phase 1

There is a plan afoot to create a pollinator corridor along the MRG. We have funds from the Robert F. Church Charitable Trust to plant native organic flowering perennials, fruit trees and shrubs (apple trees, blueberry bushes, elderberries, hazelberts, etc) along the MRG to enhance habitat for pollinators and other creatures, including hungry humans. Today was a reconnaissance mission with a knowledgeable team from Upper Valley Apple Corps and MRG Pollinator Corridor co-chairs Sarah Riley and Pat McGovern. The focus was the western end of the MRG starting at the Price Chopper parking lot access. Three spots were identified as possible planting zones.

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Site 1 at the intersection of the paved MRG with the western end of the unpaved loop path that runs along the river. It is open to the sun and would be great place for an apple tree and blueberry bushes.

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Site 2 Along the unpaved loop path, a possible site for a number of elderberry bushes.

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Site 3 the picnic table site by the umbrella sculpture, a fruit or nut tree to provide shade for picnickers?

This spring we plan to plant native organic perennials along the MRG and plant trees and shrubs in the Fall . . . unless we can figure a plan for frequent waterings of the new trees throughout the summer

It was a wet day and we appreciated the hardiness of the Upper Valley Apple Corps crew, Cat, Kye, Zea, and Jesse, who were willing to show up and offer advice in spite of the weather. They were all impressed with the MRG, a natural treasure hidden behind the Miracle Mile plaza.

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Sarah Riley and Pat McGovern with Apple Corps crew members Zea, Cat, Kye,  and Jesse.

P.S.  Spotted along the way were lots of bloodroot in flower, coltsfoot, ramps (wild leeks) and dandelion greens. Canada geese were in and along the banks of the Mascoma River . .  .   and lots of litter!  We hope Saturday’s Clean-up Day will inspire some Lebanon residents to head to the MRG to check out the raging river, the bloodroot, and help clean up the litter!

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Bloodroot!

 

 

Lebanon City Council Approves Purchase of MRG Parking Lot Land Near Slayton Hill Underpass

 

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The yellow dots define the land approved for purchase. It is on Mascoma Street, just west of APD and adjacent to the Slayton Hill underpass. (You can see a white car emerging from the underpass in this view.)

Wednesday night, the Lebanon City Council approved the purchase of land on Mascoma Street, adjacent to the MRG and the Slayton Hill underpass, to serve as additional access and parking space. We have been fortunate to have the current Mascoma Street parking lot donated by APD;  given the popularity of the MRG, a need for additional parking is anticipated and this new parking area will have easy ADA accessibility.
Thayer School Students (Sebastian Strong, Isalys Quinones, Eleanor Dowd, Sarah Atac, and David Ruiz) made an excellent presentation of their study of options for completing the western end of the trail to WRJ. They posed 3 possibilities with the favored route using the rail track across the Stone Arch Bridge (Glen Road) and into the Westboro Rail Yard with access to WRJ across Bridge Street and the Connecticut River. This will take negotiation with the Department of Transportation and and rail company, which has not been successful to date.  The students are willing to try to move this forward with the help of the City.