By Rachel Goff
At their meeting on Monday, October 13, Waitsfield Select Board approved a request from the Mad River Path Association to install a small portion of the trail on town-owned land adjacent to General Wait House and possibly Waitsfield Fire Station.
Mad River Path Association executive director William Flender presented the plan for the trail, which will be built behind Waitsfield Elementary School on four acres of land that the association purchased this past spring and donated to the school, after creating a trail easement on it.
The association also received a donation of a second trail easement across land located just north of the school so that combined, the two easements will allow for the construction of a half- mile trail parallel to the Mad River. The new trail will connect the school, the Mad River Valley Visitors Center at General Wait House and ultimately the village's sidewalk. A short set of steps will also be installed from the trail down the riverbank to provide public access to the Mad River.
The proposed trail will start at the back of the General Wait House parking lot and run east, curving around the southern end of the school's athletic field and the Waitsfield cemetery to the top of the riverbank. While the majority of the trail will be located on school-owned land, a small portion of it could stray onto Waitsfield fire station property, Flender told the board last Monday.
The select board approved Mad River Path Association's request for installation, with the condition that if parking by people using the trail became a problem at either General Wait House or Waitsfield fire station, the association would put up signs to discourage it.
With the board's approval, the association is now embarking on the permitting process for the trail, with plans to start on its construction at the end of the school year this coming June. So far, the trail has been made possible by over $60,000 in private donations and by a $20,000 grant from the Vermont Recreation Trails Program.