Media Archive

Pleasant River Walk unaffiliated with town

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 165, No. 36, September 03, 2003

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

BROWNVILLE The Pleasant River Walk, until last week, was under the auspices of the town's recreation department.

And nobody knew it.

Town Manager Sophie Wilson recently discovered that the River Walk was voted by selectmen in 2000 to be part of the Brownville Recreation Department. At an Aug. 20 meeting, Wilson, who was not town manager at the time of the initial vote, presented a list of concerns to the board regarding that status, specifically surrounding the town's liability and maintenance responsibilities toward the property, and asked the board to rescind the earlier vote.

Selectmen agreed by a 4-1 vote, with Selectman Bob Hamlin, who is acting president of the Friends of the River Walk, against the motion.

Wilson said that the only way the River Walk could remain "under the umbrella" of the town recreation department would be to get written permission from all the landowners, allowing for regular maintenance by town crews.

"If we go out and don't have written licenses," she said, "people could make an argument that we're spending money on something that is not truly ours."

In addition, if the Friends of the River Walk continue to maintain the trail, under the town's recreation department, the town would need to insure each worker at a cost of about $3.95 per person, Wilson said.

She said that the town's liability is little, as long as the three-mile stretch between the village and the junction is well marked as a hiking trail, with no all-terrain vehicles allowed. However, the town could be held liabile if routine maintenance is not conducted, she said.

Selectman Gary Cook said that while he supports the River Walk and believes it to be a "very good idea," the cooperation of the landowners is key to allowing it to remain under the town's auspices. "I think we need to wash our hands of it, and support it as a private organization," he said.

Wilson agreed. She recommended the selectmen vote to keep the River Walk a private venture, and ask the Friends to request the town make an annual donation for upkeep.

Chairman Dennis Green said he never believed there was an intention for the town roads and maintenance crews to work on the trail.

"I feel it should be private, and not under the town," said Selectman Ron Mihalik. He added that if the town's affiliation with the River Walk is not discontinued, it may set a precedent for the snowmobile clubs to come request the snowmobile trails fall under the town, as well.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.