(3/9) The Thurmont Lions Club is looking for sponsors and volunteers to participate in a trolley trail rehabilitation project to build a walking and biking trail from Main Street to the site of the new Thurmont library.
‘‘It’s a great community project, and we want the whole community to be involved in this project," said Thurmont Lions vice president Susan Favorite. ‘‘It’s going to be a wonderful shortcut from midtown down to the new library."
The Lions told town officials at a town meeting Tuesday that they have received authorization from the Maryland Department of the Environment for the first phase of the project, which will allow them to begin restoring the trail, from East Main Street to Water
The trail had been used as a railway through Thurmont from 1914 to 1954, but the tracks were ripped up after that, Favorite said. At one point, the trail had been turned into a walking
path, but over time, soil erosion due to a nearby made areas of the path unusable.
When the Lions Club celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2004, the club approached the town to ask how they could help with projects in town, and the town suggested they rehabilitate the trolley trail. The Lions are funding the project entirely through
contributions, and are looking into acquiring grants, but could not apply for the grants until they received approval from the state, Favorite said.
‘‘We are going to start as soon as the weather gets a little bit warmer...," said Favorite, who will soon become Lions president. ‘‘Right now what we are doing is talking to businesses and residents. We will be looking and asking for donations and sponsorships."
How to help
To volunteer for the trolley rehabilitation project or make a donation, call Thurmont Lions Club member Gene Long at 301-898-7004.
Part of the first phase of the project will involve replacing three drains that carry water under the old trolley trail, Favorite said. This will allow the stream to flow more freely, and help reduce the erosion problems. The state has asked the Lions to wait
until May 1 because starting work earlier would disrupt the life cycle of fish in the stream.
Once the project is complete, people will be able to walk the full length of the trail, which will be about a mile long, and will be laid with stone. While portions of the trail are usable now, soil erosion and vegetation overgrowth has caused some areas to be
impassable. People will still be able to use the trail while it is being rehabbed, Favorite said.
The Lions are also now working on getting approval for the last phase of the project, which will allow them to continue restoring the trail to its endpoint at the library.
‘‘Hopefully we can get the approvals while we’re working on the first phase, so we can just continue on with the second phase," Favorite said.
Town officials expressed their support for the project.
‘‘I think it’s a great project," Mayor Martin Burns said. ‘‘The Lions have undertaken a very complex and rewarding project that I will believe will enhance the newly built library once it opens."
The path will also give residents a place where they can get outside and walk, and a way to bypass all the traffic and roads with no sidewalks to reach the future library, Burns said.
Commissioner Bill Blakeslee is giving half of his donations from the town officials’ weight loss competition to the trolley rehabilitation project.
‘‘It’s a great project," Blakeslee said. ‘‘Not only will they rehab the existing trail... their plans are to extend it down to Moser Road. This will be a great asset for people going down to the library, and the Lions should really be congratulated for taking on
a project of this scale."