MILTON -- Rick Sharp is a man undeterred by red tape or the march of time.

For years, the Colchester resident and local businessman has been trumpeting the need for a bicycle path in Milton. Not coincidentally, the proposed bike path would run by Sharp's Cobble Hill property were he sells Christmas trees, runs a paragliding company and allows snowtubing and mountain biking.

But he genuinely believes in the value of a recreational path in Milton. He's been a bike-path proponent since the early 1980s when he helped spur the development of the Burlington recreational path. Despite some setbacks, he's not willing to give up on the idea that a bike path in Milton will happen in the near future.

For years, people in Milton have talked about the possibility of a bike path running through the southern section of town. Maps have been drafted, routes proposed, but so far, the path is just an idea.

That is likely to change when the Planning Commission drafts its five-year master plan, which should be finished by the end of October. In that master plan will be an official map establishing all future rights-of-way for recreational paths or other public utilities, said Regina Mahony, Milton planning director.

"They're hoping they can adopt a map with the new comprehensive plan," Mahony said.

On Sept. 18, the Planning Commission will begin taking input from town residents about the creation of the map, specifically with an eye on where the future bike path might go. After many tries, Sharp said he thinks he's drafted a route that should satisfy all previous concerns about the bike path.

Sharp's proposed route, plotted with the help of the Milton/Colchester Bicycle Path Group, would go from the town offices on Bombardier Road slightly northwest through Bud McCormick's property on U.S. 7 and then head south near Racine Road. The path would cut through a 53-acre parcel behind Andrea Estates that was designated as open space, Sharp said. Beyond that parcel, the path would head south behind the Petty Brook development, running parallel to U.S. 7. It would pass through the area referred to as the Punch Bowl just west of Cobble Hill before spilling out at the Colchester Park and Ride on U.S. 7.

While this particular route has yet to be presented to the Planning Commission, others have been, and residents whose properties abutted the proposed routes were opposed. A year and a half ago, the town received state grant money to draft a workable route, but Mahony said, "nothing was presented that was viable."

Many residents in the developments off U.S. 7 South said the bike path was just too close to their houses. They didn't want a path in their backyard, and after months of digging through land records, Sharp discovered a potential solution in that 53-acre parcel.

Sharp's idea is to use the 53 acres as a starting point for the path and then work from there.

"That starts the ball rolling. We'll do it piece by piece. That's how the Burlington bike path came together," Sharp said. "Once you get the momentum going, voila! A bike path comes about."

John Gordon, who lives on Racine Road close to where Sharp's proposed route would pass, said Sharp's work is essential to getting a bike path in Milton.

"Unless someone did something, the whole thing would shrivel up and people would move on," Gordon said.

Gordon sees the path as a boon to the town. Not only would the bike path provide recreational opportunities and promote healthy habits, but it would also have a positive impact on abutting landowners.

"Living next to the bike path would increase the value of my home, not decrease it," Gordon said.

Contact Lauren Ober at 660-1868 or