JAY — Selectmen voted Monday to allow the town’s Recreation Committee to spend up to $18,000 to buy grooming equipment and a snowmobile to groom trails on town land behind the high school.

The money will come from the Tower Lot Reserve Account.

The town collects monthly fees for lease of a small portion of the lot where a cell tower was installed. The money goes into the Tower Lot Reserve Account to be used for recreational purposes. In June of 2011, the monthly fees were $600 and the account contained about $82,000.

The lot has had selective tree harvesting, and many current trails have been created by a skidder. Some trails were already in existence.

The idea is to create trails for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling by using an existing trail system, as well as creating new trails on skidder roads, which have now opened up many miles of new terrain, committee member Randy Easter said.

“The hope is that all disciplines would be able to co-exist,” he said in a report to selectmen. “Snowshoe trails would only be groomed if a large storm makes it too tough for snowshoers to get through the trails. For smaller storms, snowshoers would pack their own trails, as will the snowmobilers.”

The grooming equipment would be used to maintain cross-country trails.

Rob Taylor, a member of the Recreation Committee, has received a grant for signs, which will be ordered once the new trails are established and the number of signs for each trail is determined, Easter said. The signs will be put up by students from the school.

“No snowmobile” signs will be donated by the local snowmobile club to be placed at intersections of the snowshoe and ski trails where the snowmobiles cross, he said.

The $18,000 approved Monday will be used to buy a tow-behind Tidd-Tech G2-4 with track setter for grooming from Tidd Tech Ltd. The committee is allowed to spend up to $6,000 on the equipment. The groomer and track-setter is estimated to cost $4,825, not including a wiring kit and other needed accessories.

The committee also needs to buy a snowmobile to pull the equipment.

“I’m OK with a secondhand one,” Easter said.

There are two local snowmobile clubs that are upgrading and have snowmobiles. One machine is known to be for sale for $4,000 and the other may be put up for sale, Easter said. 

The snowmobile and equipment would be owned by the town and would be added to the town’s policy and be registered to the town, Town Manager Ruth Cushman said. The club could charge gas and oil to the town’s account, she said.

Steve McCourt, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said he would rather see the committee purchase a new snowmobile and take care of it than buy a used one. He wouldn’t want to see the workers groom a trail halfway, then have the machine break down and have to walk back.

An estimate on a new Ski-Doo Skandic SWT is $11,099, Easter said, not including any discounts municipalities receive.

Selectmen allowed up to $12,000 to purchase either a good used machine or a new one. Selectmen could go with Easter to check out the machines.

Easter said having the trail system would be great marketing for the town of Jay. He said he did not want to take away from Spruce Mountain Ski Area.

“We are the gateway to the mountains,” he said. The town would have walking and mountain biking trails in the summer, spring and fall. In the winter, it would have access to snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails, he said.

Only trained people will be allowed to use the town’s snowmobile to groom trails. No one under 18 would use it.

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