When It All Began
The Derry Rail Trail Alliance was officially registered with the State of New Hampshire on October 31, 2007 as a non-profit organization for the purpose of completing the rail trail on the former Manchester and Lawrence branch line of the Boston and Maine rail bed through Derry. We are a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization, our EIN (Federal Tax ID) is 26-1251090.
The seven member board of directors is comprised of area residents who are dedicated to seeing this project completed and maintained for the benefit of the Greater Derry Community. Here is some background information on each of our board members.
If you are interested in taking an active role in the success of the Derry Rail Trail Alliance, please send email to derryrailtrail
Erich Whitney, Past President
Erich and his family have lived in Derry since 1996 and he is originally from the Monadnock region of the state. He is currently the treasurer of the Bike Walk Alliance of New Hampshire, member of the Granite State Wheelmen, and captain of a cycling team dedicated to raising money for the Jimmy Fund with the Pan Mass Challenge organization. He earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of New Hampshire and has been working in engineering for 18 years and is currently employed by the MITRE corporation in Bedford, Mass.
"I started the Derry Rail Trail project because I saw an opportunity to turn a small piece of town land into a recreational resource not only for the residents of Derry but as a regional recreation destination. Hundreds of people have taken to the Windham Rail Trail and we're providing an extension for them right into downtown Derry and vice versa. We have parks, shops, and restaurants accessible to users of the trail because it connects to the existing Derry Bike Path and all of downtown. This is a project for the entire community."
Mark Connors, Vice President
Mark joined Erich Whitney and others in forming the DRTA after a couple of family bike rides on the Derry Bike Loop Path and Windham Rail Trail back in 2006 - 2007.
As Mark states, "I didn't even know these wonderful trails existed until we stumbled upon a bike route sign one day and decided to follow them around town. After enjoying rides on the Bike Loop Path and newly paved Windham Rail trail we encountered the difficult and unmaintained 2-mile section of rail trail between Windham's Rail Trail and the Derry Bike Loop Path - not a fun ride with 3 small kids! Upon learning that the town had no immediate plans to upgrade this section I decided to join Mr. Whitney in forming the DRTA in order to help generate community interest and support in linking these two great bike paths.
It has been a wonderful 9 years working with a dedicated group of board members to see the trail being completed within Derry. The trail has truly become a community resource for people of all ages and it has also become the centerpiece of the revitalization of downtown Derry! I have been impressed with the way our town leaders and the community at large have come together to rally around this project. What we started in 2007 has morphed into an even bigger project – The Granite State Rail Trail – which will run from the NH/MA border in Salem all the way to the NH/VT border in Lebanon!"
Knut J. Roalsvig, M.D., Treasurer
"I've been in practice in the greater Derry area since 1988. I was the founder and currently the Medical Director of Granite State GI Consultants in Derry. As a physician in town I can appreciate the many health benefits of a paved trail that can be accessed year round, and see this as a development that can add to the outdoor recreation opportunities and overall quality of life here in town. As this area grows in population and density these tranquil outdoor areas will become even more valuable to us.
We were formerly living in Windham and recently moved to East Derry. We very much enjoyed using the Windham Rail Trail and have seen the immediate success this was to that town, and I would like to see the same happen here in Derry. As an avid bicyclist (member of Granite State Wheelmen), hiker (AMC member) and cross country skier, I have used the Windham Rail Trail many times when I needed some fresh air and did not have a full day to travel elsewhere."
John Taylor, Secretary
John Taylor and his wife Elisabeth, have lived in Derry for 29 years and have two children. John has a Bachelors of Science degree in Biology from Kalamzoo College and has worked in residential construction for 33 years. He currently works as a project manager for a design build firm in the North Shore area of Massachusetts.
"I became interested in the rail trail for many reasons. I think the rail trail will bring visitors to Derry and enhance the many improvements taking place downtown. Also, as a lifelong visitor to Cape Cod, my family and I have enjoyed the rail trail there and feel it is a tremendous asset to that community. Finally, once the Derry section is complete, I would like to see more trails in the region expanded. My hope is that in addition to the obvious recreational resource, the trail would be used by commuters."
John P. Daley, M.D., Liaison to Londonderry Trailways
John grew up in Wisconsin, and has been a family physician at Derry Medical Center for 14 years, residing in Londonderry. He attended college at Harvard, got his medical degree from the University of Wisconsin, and attended residency at Brown University, where he rode his first rail trail along Narragansett Bay. He currently is a partner at Derry Medical Center and also serves on the board of Community Health Services in town. He has been a member of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy for 16 years.
"I predominantly biked to school or work from age 12 to age 28, so I appreciate the benefit of a flat, paved, traffic-free path for getting around town. I discovered the rail trail as a fabulous running path, albeit a little uneven. As an avid biker, runner, and cross-country skier, I believe the rail trail offers limitless recreational opportunities for all ages. As a physician, I believe the rail trail will improve the health of the community, by inducing more people to get out and walk or bike. As a father, I am looking forward to biking with my young children on a hill-free route away from cars. And as a long-time member of Rails-to-Trails, I look forward to making one happen in my own community"
Jeff Strakalitis: Member-at-Large
Jeff and his wife, Judy, have owned their home in Derry for over 20 years and have 2 sons. Jeff is a drafting attorney for the state legislature.
"I joined the DRTA to be a part of continuing the expansion and success of the rail trail. I grew up taking my bike everywhere and still enjoy a day on the roads or a trip up and down the length of the paved trail. I hope someday the trail will go all the way to Concord."
Kevin Gordon, Member-at-Large
Kevin and his wife Diane have 3 children and two grandchildren. They have lived in Derry for the past 30 years and have been involved with many organizations in town throughout the years. Kevin served 12 years on the Derry Cooperative School Board and is presently the School District Moderator.
"We were always exploring the trails behind my house when the kids were younger, riding bikes or taking hikes along the Rockingham Recreation Trail. We would also explore the trail in which is now the Derry Rail Trail. When I heard Derry was about to expand the bike path to a Rail trail connecting to Windham, I was delighted. Windham already had theirs and it was great we could connect into it.
The whole family enjoys the Rail trail and the grandkids like to use it too. I wanted to become part of this group that has stood firm on their dream and made it happen. My wife and I try and do other trails in New Hampshire and Vermont, and the Cape, but there is nothing like having a rail trail in your home town. Looking forward on helping to expand to Londonderry Rail Trail and hopefully soon Windham will connect to Salem/Methuen."