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Mountain biking committee formed
RUMFORD -- A 10-person mountain biking committee has been formed, and members are already identifying and checking with landowners about permitting possible biking trails in the near future.
Jim Rinaldo, Rumford's economic developer, said the committee, made up of mountain biking enthusiasts living within a 20-mile radius, including Rinaldo and outdoor enthusiast Gary Wentzell of Mexico. Also working with the group is Steve Boulanger of Bethel.
"I'm pleased to find this many people. Most people I've never even met before, including a father and son," he noted.
Rinaldo said the committee is anxious to get started. They have volunteered to do the work of the trails, which will be low impact on the environment with trails to challenge both beginners and hard core mountain bikers.
After some of the work has been done, they would then seek possible funding through grants.
The committee is looking to do trails well beyond the boundaries of the town-owned parcel behind the highway garage and the plaza. Rinaldo said would be seeking landowner permission to do trails to Black Mountain, including Joe Pond and the White Cap area.
In total, this would mean between 20 and 25 miles of trail.
As an example of the impact these mountain bike trails can have, Rinaldo noted that a couple weeks back, Todd Papianou took his family to Burke, VT, a community of 1,600 people that also has Kingdom Trails, a series of mountain bike trails.
Papianou, who was there for a mountain bike event, noted the three-day event attracted about a thousand people.
Rinaldo said mountain biking trails in this region have been established in Bethel, Augusta, at Mt. Abram in Locke Mills and the Waterville area.
The committee is also talking about the idea of a bridge over Swift River, something that has been talked about for years by snowmobile clubs.
Another indication of how many enthusiasts might be attacted to mountain biking trails, Rinaldo pointed out that Bob Stickney, who maintains a website for the Rumford Polar Bears Snowmobile Club, said that during the season, the site receives up to 125 inquiries a day from people asking about trail conditions, lodging and restaurants.
That is another reason Rumford needs a branded hotel. Rinaldo noted that unfortunately, the effort by Robert Goudreau to establish a hotel in Rumford was not successful. "He said it no longer made financial sense to him."
So that project, which is in a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) district, is "in limbo, but we have feelers out there to four different developers. We need to have a branded hotel that recreation enthusiasts recognize. It's an important piece."