LISBON — The trails commission will go to the Town Council next week to ask members to include a $320,000 bond on the November ballot to complete the Lisbon Community Trail. The money would be the local contribution required under a $1.28 million grant awarded recently by the Maine Department of Transportation.

The same bond request was rejected by voters in a referendum in May. The vote was 746-644. There is some concern that the economic outlook makes it doubtful the town will get a second chance for another grant for some time, if the matching funds are not approved.

To date, nearly $750,000 in grants and local funds has been invested in local projects.

The final phase of the project will complete the four-mile trail connecting the villages of Lisbon, Lisbon Center and Lisbon Falls. The trail will provide access from community neighborhoods to all three public schools in town and provide outstanding views of the Androscoggin and Sabattus rivers.

The completed portion of the trail runs from the Smith-McCarthy Park parking lot in Lisbon Village through to the Sabattus river boat launch at the intersection of Frost Hill Avenue and Route 196 in Lisbon Falls. Completion of the last section will bring the trail under the Sabattus River Bridge to the park and ride lot next to the Rail Road diner, a renovated railroad depot on Route 196 in downtown Lisbon Falls.

According to town engineer Ryan Leighton, the trail is about 14 feet wide, with a 9-foot wide paved lane and a four foot wide gravel shoulder on one side.

It is a multipurpose trail for pedestrians and bicyclist, and portions can accommodate snowmobiles in certain areas during the winter. On any given day, dozens of outdoor enthusiasts of all ages take advantage of the scenic trail. There is ample parking space to leave cars at the boat launch, picnic tables for lunch and usually a mobile food vendor is there to provide snacks and soft drinks.

Town Manager Stephen Eldridge said, “The completed trail will not only be used for recreation and wellness but be a catalyst for connection between the villages of Lisbon and improve walkability within our community. As we focus on the river as an asset for economic development, the trail system becomes an integral component to provide access and forward that endeavor. Lisbon is very fortunate to receive $1.28 million to complete the entire project. This project will be a true asset and improve the quality of life for the citizens and visitors of Lisbon alike,” he said.

Jonathan LaBonte, executive director of the Androscoggin Land Trust is equally as enthusiastic. “The Androscoggin Land Trust is excited that the efforts to enhance access to the Androscoggin river by the town of Lisbon has been recognized by this significant grant from MDOT for the final section of the Lisbon community trail. As regional efforts to get people reconnected to the river advance we know that the positive economic impacts are not far behind,” he said.

Dan Stewart, bicycle and pedestrian program manager of MDOT said, ” The continuation of the Community Trail form Lisbon into Lisbon Falls is an exciting opportunity to connect the village areas, schools, riverfront and downtown areas and has the potential to be one of the most important bicycle connections. The trail when completed will improve safety quality of life and serve to attract economic development. It is very important to MDOT to assist in the completion of this trail in order to provide safe bicycle and pedestrian connectivity for the Lisbon Villages.”

Paul and Hope Chamberlain of Paris check out the Sabattus River along the Paper Mill/Ricker Farm Trails in Lisbon after dropping off a travel bag from Grafton Notch at a geocache along the trail Monday. “We’ve been a lot of places we never knew about,” Hope said, of the geocaching competition. Participants use a GPS receiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers called “geocaches” or “caches” anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container
containing a logbook.,

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