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Town Eyes Grants to Improve Trails

The Barrington Town Council has endorsed two applications for state funds that would pay for improvements to trails in Veterans Park and the Hampden Meadows Greenbelt.

Barrington is going after a couple of state grants to improve trails for hikers in Veterans Memorial Park and the Hampden Meadows Greenbelt.

The Town Council endorsed the applications for the $100,000 grants from the RI Department of Environmental Management last Monday. Barrington would have to provide a 20 percent match in funds or volunteer hours dedicated to the trails, said Town Planner Phil Hervey.

Up to now, almost all of the trail maintenance and improvements in Barrington have been done by volunteers who enjoy the work, said Hervey. And they would still be involved.

"But volunteers can only do so much," he said. “This is the first time we’ve sought funds to bid it out."

The grants are known as "recreational trail grants." They are designed to cover the cost of “projects that promote and enhance trail-based recreation,” with a maximum grant totaling $100,000, said Hervey in a document presented to the Town Council.

The projects could include: new trail construction, major renovations, equipment purchases, acquiring land.

Proposals are due by the end of November, he said. There are no cost estimates for the trails yet. But both could cost up to $100,000 and could include “soft costs” -- design and survey work needed for bidding and permitting.

Work done at Veterans Park by the volunteers over the past two years has included the design, production and installation of trail markers; new trail map handouts; new trail and park informational signs; and the clearing of new trails behind the ballfield and cell tower at Veterans Park, according to Hervey in the document to the Town Council.

“The trails grant provides an opportunity to complete the overall Veterans Park trails plan, including establishing a trail that extends around the length of Brickyard Pond,” said Hervey. “I’m sure we can at least get the eastside done.”

The trail around the pond would require significant work on the west side of Brickyard Pond, including brush clearing and the construction of a bridge across a creek that runs adjacent to Legion Way, Hervey said.

Fixing the eroded shoreline along a trail on the east side of the pond also is too large a project for volunteers, he said. So is improving the gravel parking area at the end of the park access road into the main section of the park.

The main Hampden Meadows Greenbelt trail extends from Linden Road to Kent Street, and from Kent Street to Christine Drive. The section between Linden and Kent, approximately 2,900 feet, is in excellent condition, with a wide gravel surface that allows walking, jogging and biking, according to Hervey.

The grant would be used to improve the sections between Kent Street and Christine Drive (about 2,800 feet), and to extend a new trail through town-owned property from Christine Drive to Tall Pines Drive (about 400 feet).

“The trail between Kent Street north and Sowams School, which runs alongs a stream, is often difficult to walk because of wet conditions and tree roots,” Hervey said.

The trail from that point up to Christine Drive is often overgrown with weeds, as well as wet in certain areas, he said.

Barrington recently received a donation of land north of Christine Drive that will allow the extension of the trail to Tall Pines Drive. A bridge will be needed to cross the stream, as well as some trail clearing and surface improvements, Hervey said.

Overall, the Greenbelt project would result in an improved trail extending more than a mile, and provide a north-south link from Linden Road to Tall Pines that could also be used by students to get to Hampden Meadows School.

"It would help capitalize on the Safe Routes to School improvements recently completed at and in the vicinity of Hampden Meadows School – including a new sidewalk on Kent Street and new bike racks at the school," Hervey said.

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