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Sewall Woods enhanced trails officially opened in Wolfeboro

GEORGE VANDERHEIDEN (left) and Jim Eisenhower spearheaded the four-year effort to enhance approximately a third of the Sewall Woods trails. Both warmly thanked the selectmen, Town Planner Rob Houseman, Public Works Director Dave Ford, and Parks and Recreation Director Ethan Hipple, the Pathways Committee and Pathways of Wolfeboro for their support. (Elissa Paquette photo) (click for larger version)
September 08, 2011
WOLFEBORO — It was four years in the making, but finally, on Sept. 1, 2011, George Vanderheiden and Jim Eisenhower, co-chairmen of Pathways of Wolfeboro, its members and volunteers serving on the town's Pathways Committee celebrated the Grand Opening of the newly-enhanced Sewall Woods trails.

Nearly 100 visitors gathered for the ribbon cutting at the trail head on Clow Road. Quite a few were straddling bicycles and others were ready to walk along the four miles of eight-foot-wide trails built by Josh Ryan of Timber & Stone, LLC, of Vermont.

The completion of the Sewall Woods section marks the finish of a now connected enhanced network of trails that begins at the Abenaki Ski Area. The ending of the project, which began in 2007 with negotiations for a memorandum of understanding between the land owner, Lakes Region Conservation Trust, represented by its president, Don Berry, marks the beginning of an outdoor recreational resource that will be enjoyed by visitors from Wolfeboro and throughout the Lakes Region.

Wolfeboro's Town Planner and Director of Development Rob Houseman acknowledged the work of the many volunteers involved, the quality of the construction, Cal and Verna Flagg for allowing the use of their land for the parking lot at the entrance to the trails, the neighbors who "tolerated all the noise and dust during the construction this summer," and Public Works Director Dave Ford and Parks and Recreation Director Ethan Hipple for their assistance along the way.

Eisenhower noted that any time he called Houseman to update him on the progress of the trailwork, he would find that Houseman already had been out on the trails that morning.

Houseman admitted to the assembled crowd, "I, for one, felt that this change would disrupt 'my little playground,' a place that I would run in, through waist high brush in the summer, checking myself for ticks after each venture." Referring to the new, packed gravel, well-drained trails, he added, "Not any more. I can [now] run tick-, mud-, wet feet- and brush-free."

He added, "Change is sometimes hard for individuals and the community; however, this change clearly provides access to conservation lands that is a win for everyone. It allows access to Sewall Woods in a manner that protects the environment and will grow the base of support for conserving lands."

Vanderheiden and Eisenhower, who raised more than $300,000, with "valuable fund raising support from Tom O'Brien, Gene Solod, Art Slocum and Ted Greenberg," expressed delight at accomplishing the objective of expanding enjoyment of the trails through all seasons of the year.

They also thanked committee members: Kathy Barnard, Mal Blodget, John Adams, Jim Nupp, Barbara Laverick and Art Slocum for their commitment, and the Wentworth Economic Development Corporation for serving as fiscal agent.

The trails, layered from bottom to top with a base, gravel, filter fabric and six to eight inches of crushed stone, are compact enough to accommodate strollers and possibly wheelchairs, said Vanderheiden. The surface will also extend the ski season, for it can be groomed with only two inches of snow cover on it, rather than the ten required on the less cultivated trails.

He said the amount of crushed stone used in creating the trails is equivalent to two feet of stone covering a football field

Allen Bailey, serving as master of ceremony, said that he no longer had any excuse not to exercise, with the trails right in his backyard, and Dave Ford and his wife, Tricia, stood by ready to tour the trails with their bikes along with others. Kathy Barnard cut the yellow ribbon and the project was officially complete.

First things first though: families and supporters were offered pizza served on site by Wolfe City Brick Oven Pizza from their portable brick oven set up alongside the parking lot.

Houseman earlier summed up the feeling of the event when he shared these "words of wisdom" from a five year old bike rider who "hollered" passing by him recently on the trails, "Yahoo eeee! This is awesome!"

Let the good times roll.

Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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