Jay panel votes to give $1,000 to trails group

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JAY — Selectmen voted Monday to give $1,000 from the Recreation Fund to the Chisholm Trails project that would eventually connect the Jay and Livermore Falls schools via a walking path.

The initial goal is to link the Jay and Livermore Falls high schools and the Androscoggin River, with a recreational trail, according to information presented by group member Mary Howes.

Selectman Tim DeMillo, Howes’ husband, abstained from the vote due to his connection with the group.

There is also a warrant article on the Livermore Falls town ballot that asks voters to donate $1,000 to the project, Howes said.

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The two communities have been selected by the National Park Service to receive assistance in planning the Androscoggin Greenway in the region, according to the literature. The initiative intends to build on the “success” of the new Foundry Road Trail in Livermore Falls and the Whistle-Stop Trail in Jay. Androscoggin Land Trust is also a partner in the effort, Howes said.

The 14-mile, multi-use Whistle-Stop Trail goes from Jay to West Farmington. The trail that would go from French Falls in Jay, below the schools, to the Livermore Falls path, would be a walking trail.

Chisholm Trails is a grassroots organization and the partners include businesses, town governments, nonprofit organizations, recreational groups and others.

The group has met with architects and landscape professionals who are going to do some work pro bono to design the trail, Howes said.

The trail would also have to go over Otis Ventures LLC’s property, formerly owned by Wausau Paper Co. in Chisholm Square, located at the town lines.

Howes and DeMillo own the mill property.

“This isn’t anything personal to us,” DeMillo told fellow selectmen and those gathered at the selectmen’s meeting.

There is already a hike day planned in June for the seventh-graders at both school systems, he said.

The group is hoping to get kids to volunteer to help clean up the trails.

The path won’t be paved but is expected to follow the old railroad bed, Howes said.

The first phase is just a small portion of what the group plans to do. The group wants to find a way to cross the river, she said.

“It’s a big picture,” Howes said. “Phase One is connecting the schools.”

Livermore Falls Town Manager Jim Chaousis would like to see the walking path kept along the river, DeMillo said. Designers are working on that.

“This goes along with all the (regional school unit) and everything else we’re trying to do — tying the towns together,” he said.

This type of thing is what the Rec fund is for, Selectman Amy Gould said.

The fund consists of money the town gains from leasing town-owned land to a communications company for a tower on the land. Proceeds from timber harvesting on the nearly 200-acre parcel will also go into that fund to be used for recreation purposes.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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