DOVER -- Dover Road Commissioner Bobby Holland asked the Selectboard earlier this month if there was a consensus for what should be done with the Valley Trail during the cold winter months.
"We can snow blow it right now but chances are, it won't be bare," he said at the Sept. 3 meeting.
The paved stretch, which runs along Route 100 from the Post Office to the parking lot where the Valley View Saloon is located, could potentially be used for cross country skiing or snow shoeing.
The board explored options and discussed the possibility of maintaining the trail in the winter. Initiating a permanent plan for maintaining the trail was the main purpose for the discussion, Selectboard Chairman Randy Terk said as the board formed its thoughts.
Board member Victoria Capitani mentioned that last year, the board authorized grooming on the trail to make it available for skiing and it was groomed twice. She asked if additional equipment would need to be purchased if the board decided to approve grooming by the Road Crew.
Holland said equipment would need to be purchased, but also commented on the unpermitted use of snowmobiles on the Valley Trail last year.
"There were a lot of snowmobilers," he said. "They're not supposed to be there but they packed it out so people could walk on it."
Terk said he thought the trail should be packed so that it could be open for certain uses during the winter.
"We have the Valley Trail and the Valley Trail system, which is not the Valley Trail but it goes from Wilmington to Dover. It's being promoted as a reason to come to Dover," he said. "There are people who don't ski. We want them to come here and stay in lodges and visit our restaurants. This is one thing they can do. The trail needs to be available for non-motorized uses."
Capitani agreed with Terk, while another person said that if snow is packed on the trail, ice could create a liability for the town.
"We need to figure out how to do it," Capitani said. "We might as well get used to the fact that we're going to have to maintain it."
Selectboard member Joe Mahon said it would be more feasible to pack the snow and "not advertise it's for walking."
"It doesn't seem really economical to keep it cleared," he said.
Snowmobiling on the trail would also need to be addressed in upcoming meetings, board members agreed. Putting up signs was an option discussed.
Officer Randy Johnson, who will begin his job as Dover Police Chief on Nov. 1, said that once one person operates a snowmobile on the trail and doesn't get caught, others follow the tracks. They are unlikely to read signs and the situation is difficult to enforce, he said.
He added that there is no one standing by the trail to "punish them for doing it."
Advocating for snowmobilers to self-police, Dover Economic Development Specialist Assistant Linda Anelli thought this could be an opportunity for property owners along the north and south end of the trail to work with snowmobile clubs to "delineate actual snowmobile trails."
Terk concluded that there wouldn't be a resolution at the meeting and the board would need to find out if there was an ordinance or a way to work with the business community to enforce the rules.
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