CHESHIRE, Mass. — The town has officially been designated as an Appalachian Trail Community and will hold a celebration in late June.
Resident Eileen Quinn said the Appalachian Trail Community Committee has been working hard over the past few months preparing the application and this March, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy gave the town its blessing.
"It is a pretty big deal and I think it will put Cheshire on the map more," Quinn said. "There are a little over 40 designated communities, so it literally puts us on the map ... hikers will know Cheshire is hiker friendly."
Quinn said the application process was lengthy and the committee needed to meet specific criteria, such as scheduling town educational opportunities and gaining support from businesses and organizations.
She said the application was submitted in February.
Quinn added that she was surprised that much of what the application process entailed, the town was already doing.
"I felt like we were just formalizing what Cheshire was already doing and through this process, we learned about the things that were already happening in the community," she said.
In March, Quinn and fellow committee member Karen Daigle attended the Appalachian Trail's annual New England Community Summit in Hanover, N.H., to go before the New England Appalachian Trail Community Board of Directors.
"They asked us questions about why we wanted to be an Appalachian Trail Community," Daigle said. "We went over some of the things and they voted us in as a designated community."
Cheshire joins three other Berkshire towns as Appalachian Trail Communities: Great Barrington, North Adams, and Dalton.
Daigle said the town now must honor what was pledged in the application and will hold a community cleanup day June 16 on the Cobbles and plan to engage the school system. She also has scheduled speakers to go the schools and educate students about the Appalachian Trail and hopes to get students involved in a youth summit on Mount Greylock.
Quinn added that committee also plans on updating the Appalachian Trail kiosk on School Street.
The celebration is scheduled for Saturday, June 30, and Quinn said there will be a morning hike to the Cobbles followed by a party near Diane's Twist along the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail where there will be music, food and guest speakers.
"It is this little business, but hikers love it and it is literally right on the Appalachian Trail and it crosses the rail trail," Quinn said. "So it is where two town recreation areas cross."
In the future, Quinn said the group would like to install a shelter for hikers somewhere in town and possibly provide bikes for hikers so they can use the rail trail.
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — Town officials will apply for a special permit on behalf of Appalachian Trail hikers to accommodate camping on the Cheshire School grounds.
A proposal to place a camping site on the town-owned land came to a halt last week when it was found to be in violation of the town's zoning.
After some research, Town Administrator Edmund St. John IV told the board of Selectmen on Tuesday that he may have found a way to establish a campsite for through-hikers on a portion of the grounds of the vacant school.
"I think last week was good to get all of that information out so we know what the issues are but just because there are issues does not mean that there is not a path we can move forward on," St. John said.
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