Rumford board mulls possible mountain bike trail system

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RUMFORD — By mid July, Rumford could have its first mountain bike trail system. But that depends on further discussion by selectmen at their next board.

At Thursday night’s meeting, Jim Rinaldo of the Economic Development Committee pitched the idea as an economic development tool by referring to an article he read about a mountain bike trail system in East Burke, Vt.

“What caught my attention was that in 1999, they started building these trails,” he said.

“Then in 2004, that’s when people started using them. That first year, they had 4,000 people visiting the town and using these trails. Five years later, in 2009, they had 40,000 people.”

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He said they estimated that the economic boom was in excess of $2 million at that time.

So, Rinaldo said he started thinking about where such a trail system could be built in Rumford and realized the town owns 83 acres behind the Public Works garage and River Valley Crossing mall off Route 2.

An Internet search led him to mountain bike trail system designer Brian Alexander, the owner of Red Oak Enterprises in Rome.

Rinaldo said he invited Alexander to Rumford last week and took him out on the terrain. After which, Alexander said he could put two to three miles of trail in.

Alexander’s proposal to design and plan a mountain bike system costs $1,500, Rinaldo said. It would take about a week.

He then wanted the board to understand that if they green-light the project and approve spending $1,500, that’s only the first stage.

Building the trail would cost $1 a foot if Alexander does it by hand or $3 to $5 a foot using machinery. For a 3-mile trail, that’s roughly $15,000 to $17,000, he said.

Selectmen acting Chairman Jeff Sterling said he views the addition of a mountain bike trail system as a great idea for the 83 acres, because a few lots over to the left, is where the new brand name hotel could be built.

“Envision that being the hub of really a recreational area that these trails will just encompass,” he said.

“Across the road, you’ve got the (Androscoggin) River and the bowling lanes. You know, how great would it be if there is an entrepreneur who wants to bring a Bethel Outdoor Adventure-type of business to Rumford where you could rent kayaks and canoes to ride on the river.

“This seems like a great opportunity for us to start developing this type of recreation opportunities,” Sterling said.

“Sunday River does have mountain biking. . . . It’s been incredibly popular on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. There are a lot of people out doing this, so this seems like a great opportunity for the town of Rumford.”

Selectmen, however, couldn’t approve spending $1,500 for the study, because it was a discussion-only agenda item. That’s why Selectmen Jeremy Volkernick asked that it be placed on their next meeting agenda.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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