Topsham seeks tree-planting grant for new bike-ped trail

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TOPSHAM — After the Board of Selectmen’s unanimous blessing Jan. 12, the town is applying for a grant to help plant trees along a new bicycle-pedestrian trail.

The Project Canopy planning grant, through the Maine Forest Service, would allow Topsham to landscape and plant 30-40 trees along the second planned phase of the town’s bike-ped path. Topsham seeks about $9,400 for the project, Town Planner Rod Melanson said in an interview Tuesday.

The new path will run from Town Hall at 100 Main St., across the street and around the Wright-Pierce office, then east through a forest to Community Drive, parallel to the U.S. Route 196 Coastal Connector. The phase, primarily completed early last month, runs about three-quarters of a mile.

Since much of the trail is already forested, the new trees would be planted along open areas, providing a buffer from the Coastal Connector and replacing trees that were removed to create the trail.

Once the finishing touches are put on that part of the path, a grand opening should be held this spring, Melanson said. The town should also hear by then whether it received the grant and, if so, the trees will be planted this summer and fall, Melanson said.

Topsham has successfully applied for Project Canopy grants before, most recently with tree plantings along Route 196 in 2015, Melanson said.

The first segment of the four-phase project runs along Monument Place from the Topsham Fair Mall to Town Hall. The next phase, for which preliminary design work has already been completed, would start across the Coastal Connector at Village Drive and run to the Topsham Crossing neighborhood.

Planned future segments include a bridge over the Coastal Connector and paths to the Androscoggin River Path and Mt. Ararat High School.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Topsham is applying for a Project Canopy grant in order to plant 30-40 trees along part of a multi-section bicycle and pedestrian path through town.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.