Bangor trail system plan moving forward slowly

Posted Sept. 25, 2008, at 9:54 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Lucy Quimby and other members of the Bangor Land Trust have been working for years to identify both existing and potential multiuse trails throughout the Queen City.

They envision a connecting network that criss-crosses Bangor’s many open spaces where walkers, bikers and even cross-country skiers in the wintertime can use the trails in harmony.

“I’d like to see it finished in my lifetime,” Quimby, the Trust president, said in a recent interview.

Earlier this week, the Bangor City Council was presented with a comprehensive Bangor Trails Report, a sure sign that the dream of Quimby and many others is moving closer to reality.

“It’s a big project and the final goal of course is for Bangor to have an exemplary trail system; not only Bangor but the surrounding communities,” Quimby said.

The report, which took more than two years to complete was accepted by councilors. It will now go to the planning board, the special committee on comprehensive planning and the parks and recreation committee for review.

City Council Chairwoman Susan Hawes admitted this week that she has not read the report thoroughly but was impressed with what she saw.

“They obviously gathered input from a lot of various bodies,” she said. “We’re anxious to get this moving. It’s really the one missing link that we’ve wanted to see happen for Bangor.”

The Bangor Land Trust worked with Keep Bangor Beautiful — another area nonprofit — and the City of Bangor on the report. It identifies 18 primary trials or trail segments that would form a citywide trail system.

“Everybody saw that we needed to have a better handle on pedestrian and bicycle connectivity in the community,” Bangor City Manager Edward Barrett said this week. “Obviously, this is a very long-term plan, but we now have something to get started.”

The trail segments were identified through a series of public outreach activities that were designed to solicit various opinions of interested individuals and organizations in the Bangor region. The report provides detailed accounts of each trail, including maps, photos and rankings to assign an order of priority for development.

“It will be discussed further and amended perhaps. Some ordinance changes might be necessary,” Quimby said. “A lot of prep work still needs to be done.”

Specifically, some of the identified trails cross private property. Landowners would need to approve public access, and that’s no guarantee.

“We’ve been really clear with landowners [with our intentions],” Quimby said. “But a lot of what we’ve identified for trails [already] has public access.”

Barrett also said a number of different institutions have emerged as obvious partners, such as Husson College and Eastern Maine Community College.

City officials agree that the project is not being rushed, and Barrett said it most likely will be created in stages.

Quimby, for one, is itching to get started.

“We don’t know what our first trail will be, but we could start in a few months,” she said.

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