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Staff Writer

TOWNSEND — Ideas like the Squannacook River Rail Trail would increase recreation and alternative transportation, but there is opposition due to funding.

Recreational trails can be costly to build and maintain.

On Wednesday, May 30, at 6:30 p.m. in the Selectmen’s Chamber, the Montachusett Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) will meet with anyone interested to discussing ideas and concerns about recreational trails in the area.

The MRPC is a regional advisory board that helps with comprehensive planning issues for 22 communities in the Montachusett area.

Transportation planner Sheri Dufour said the meeting is part of a series to complete a trail inventory survey.

“Each community has a unique need for trails,” said Dufour. “That’s why we’re going from community to community to hear their individual concerns.”

Townsend, along with Groton, Lancaster and Sterling, are being surveyed to enable a better understanding of what trails currently exist and where the future ones might be, she said.

Dufour said that at the meeting, maps of Townsend will be distributed so residents can show where existing trails are located. If any trails are shown that are not currently in the MRPC database, they will be surveyed at a later date to be mapped.

Once unknown trails are identified, discussion will focus on the possibility of connecting trails to surrounding communities. Regionalization of trails will great increase the likelihood of receiving funding and grants, she said.

While MRPC doesn’t directly fund trails, it does provide assistance in finding funding and in planning projects.

Wednesday’s meeting is being called a trail “kick off” meeting by the MRPC and will lead to future discussions about trail projects in town.

“Trail development can often be a complicated process but with the help of local interested citizens significant progress can be achieved,” said an MRPC announcement.

Questions about the meeting can be answered by Sheri Dufour at (978) 345-7376, ext. 2208, or Brad Harris at extension 2268.

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