PARRSBORO - Walking up Partridge Island trail to its scenic look-off, one might give scarce attention to who owns or looks after the property.
But those involved with the trail are saying it is at a crossroads, and in need of a new sponsor to take responsibility for its maintenance. Some are pointing to the Town of Parrsboro as the logical choice.
At the Sept. 25 monthly town council session, Coun. Lisa Ward confirmed that they had met recently with Randy Corcoran, who headed up the work project that built the trail in 1997, and has watched over it on a volunteer basis ever since. Corcoran said he would like to see the town take it over, and council was receptive to the idea.
"I'd like to see the town take it over, spend some money and do some work up here to keep it going," he said. "Anything can happen to me, and, officially, I'm not even in the equation. I think it would be great if the town takes it over and promotes it more."
The town owns a small piece of land at the top of "Partridge Island," the steep forested near Ottawa House museum and the original Parrsboro settlement. The trail to the look-off crosses over private land, much of which is owned by Acadia University, and is used by agreement.
The trail, along with bridges, railings and a lighthouse-shaped building at the look-off, were constructed with funding from the provincial and federal governments in 1997. The Parrsboro and District Board of Trade assumed responsibility as sponsor of the trail to access government funding, which was administered by the Central Nova Tourist Association (CNTA) through its Fundy Shore Ecotour program.
"As a consequence, the Board of Trade has been paying over $1,000 a year for liability insurance," said Board of Trade president David Beattie. "As the Fundy Shore Ecotour program has now been canceled, the Board of Trade has asked that the town consider taking over the responsibility as the town's umbrella liability insurance policy could be applied to this site at little or no additional cost. This will allow the Board of Trade to invest in other activities to promote local businesses."
The CNTA, for its part, never canceled the Fundy Shore Ecotour program, but rather the product as a whole faded away due to a lack of funding, according to Devin Trefry, CNTA marketing director.
"Like many great projects, the ecotour had a lot of funding support to get started, but there was no plan in place to sustain it," said Trefry. "Many of the sites on the ecotour were sponsored or supported by volunteer groups. Over time, key volunteers moved on, some sites were not being maintained properly as a result, and signs and promotional material for the tour were nit replenished due to a lack of funds."
The CNTA remains interested in the Partridge Island site, but on the level of marketing the region's tourism product, rather than maintenance and development of the trail, according to Trefry.
With the town now having a full-time recreation director on staff, and an active trails committee in place, Corcoran said the time is right for the town to take on the responsibility of managing the trail, which he said is still used regularly by locals and visitors alike, despite the need for repairs to bridges, railings, etc.
"The good thing about the town having it, is it would be more secure that way," he said. "The Board of Trade fluctuates, and if the town owns the property, it might as well manage the trail. The great thing about having a recreation director is it gives it some focus."
Council agreed at its Sept. 25 meeting to write letters to both the CNTA and the Board of Trade to confirm their position on the trail, and to refer the matter to the trails committee for further discussion. Coun. Dawn McCully, who sits on that committee, said they were ready to give the trail attention.
"We're going to spend our time focused on one trail, and that will be the Partridge Island trail, because it needs a lot of upgrades," she said.