In its work identifying potential trail building projects in The Valley, the Mad River Path Association has honed in on a new location: Sugarbush Access Road.
According to the association's executive director, Will Flender, Sugarbush Access Road "is not really a safe place to be walking—and sometimes biking," he said. Building some sort of path for pedestrians and cyclists alongside the road could be "a pretty important facility, because of the population density of that area," he said, referring to its many ski houses and condos.
Flender came before the Warren Select Board at their meeting on Tuesday, June 23, to ask for their support in applying for a grant from the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition to perform a scoping study of the land leading up to the mountain.
"It's not a cheap endeavor," Flender told the board, explaining that the study will cost about $25,000. Per the conditions of the grant, Warren has to be the party to apply for it, but "I would do all the work," Flender said. If the scoping study is funded, the town would be responsible for a 10 percent match—about $1,750—toward which Sugarbush Resort has said it would contribute $1,000.
Until the study is complete, Flender is not sure what the town-owned trail will look like. It probably wouldn't be a sidewalk, "but maybe some sort of side path," he said. "You do have a nice wide right of way up there," he told the board.
"I personally love trails," select board chair Andy Cunningham said, and "I've got to think it would help a lot of people up there," he said. "I think you're talking about willing landowners, in this case," he said, and Flender agreed.
"It would be an enhancement to their property," Flender said.
And so, the Warren Select Board voted unanimously to support the Mad River Path Association in pursuing funding for the project. Applications are due July 17, Flender said, and if the town receives the grant the scoping study would likely be done next year.
"I'm not under any illusion that it's going to be a cheap project up there," Flender said of the actual construction of a path alongside the access road, but the resort has "a lot of good access points," he said, "and I think it's worth looking at."