August 24, 2018MEREDITH — The creation of a new nature trail accessible to all alongside Hawkins Brook is close to becoming a reality with some more fundraising and some more steps needed.
The proposed Laverack Nature Trail at Hawkins Brook is $75,000 away from its fundraising goal after receiving a major donation and a Request for Proposals has been sent out for a builder. The trail is the concept of the Meredith Village Pathways Committee, a subcommittee of the board of selectmen, and has been in the planning stages for a number of years.
The trail will start on Route 25 by Meredith Village Savings Bank and the Seneca Ladd Building with parking on the corner of the Seneca Ladd Building going behind the Meredith Bay Shopping Plaza, and ending at Prescott Park. The trail will be 10 feet wide and mostly hardpack material with different boardwalks by the wetland. Three different observation platforms will out into the wetlands along with educational information.
The trail will be entirely handicap accessible and accessible to wheelchairs, strollers, walkers, and any other mobility device.
Pathways Committee member Liz Lapham said this all started in 2012 after she had gone to a Meredith Rotary Cub meeting to thank the group for their support of the Historical Walking Tour project. She said John Sherman approached her and told her about the wetlands behind the shopping center, saying this could be their next project.
Lapham later went out to the wetland with Andrea Bourn, now the chair of the Pathways Committee, and explored the area on kayak.
"We were pretty astounded to find indeed there was this whole wetlands (area) nobody could see because of the shopping center," Lapham said.
She said as they were leaving the area and were between MVSB and the Seneca Ladd Building they met then MVSB President and CEO Sam Laverack and told him what they were doing.
"He said 'Great idea, I'm all for it," Lapham said.
Since then Laverack has been involved in the effort and agreed to be the honorary chairman of the fundraising committee.
When Laverack retired from MVSB the bank's home company New Hampshire Mutual Bank Corp made a $200,000 donation to the trail in Laverack's name. Because if this contribution, the trail will be known as the Laverack Nature Trail at Hawkins Brook.
"That really said to us this is possible," Lapham said.
The trail effort has been the result of the work of the nine-member committee, who Lapham and Bourn said have been loyal and dedicated to the project since the beginning. Bourn especially gave credit to Lapham and Carol Gerken for their efforts on this. The Vermont-based Timber & Stone, LLC has designed the trail, one of many different nature trails the company has designed throughout the Northeast.
Several members of the committee have held house parties to raise money for the trail. One member has sent letters to different businesses in town asking for contributions. They have received contributions from MVSB, the Rotary, the Meredith Conservation Commission, Altrusa Club, and a number of small gifts. The effort received an $80,000 grant from the New Hampshire Bureau of Trails. As the grant has to be spent this fall they will do something on the project this year.
They also received a $5,000 grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation to get advice from a professional fundraiser. The trail also has the approval of neighboring property owners Crosspoint Associates, which owns the shopping plaza, and Meredith Bay Village.
The project is now $75,000 away from being realized.
The trail will be a 10 minute walk from the Inter-Lakes school campus and will have many educational opportunities. Bourn said the committee met over the summer with Inter-Lakes Superintendent Mary Moriarty, administrators, and teachers from the elementary through the high school level and are preparing a teacher's guide to the trail complex.
"Having a walkable community is one of the goals and connecting with nature we know is good for mind, body, and spirit and walking is good for health," Bourn said.
She said the more people are walking from the docks to the trail the more people are walking by businesses in the village.
Bourn said she has heard about people asking for information about accessible trails in the area.
They are aiming to start building the trail sometime in the coming spring. Proposals will be reviewed in September, which will give the committee an indication of how much the project will cost.
The Pathways Committee will also have a booth at this weekend's Fine Arts and Crafts Festival, where there will be more information and opportunities to donate.
To donate make checks out to the Town of Meredith – HBNT. Send checks and IRA contributions to 41 Main St., Meredith, NH, 03253. For more information contact Andrea Bourn at HawkinsBrookNT@gmail.com.