The Mad River Valley Recreation District (MRVRD) has granted funds to 13 community organizations for a wide range of recreation projects. Using funds allocated by MRVRD member towns of Waitsfield, Warren and Fayston in 2019, the MRVRD awarded $44,624 to leverage local recreational initiatives that advance the district’s mission to “facilitate, enhance and create recreational opportunities that promote community vitality, physical fitness, appreciation for the outdoors and a high quality of life” throughout the Mad River Valley.
“We had a record number of applicants this year, seeking over $81,000 in funding,” said Doug Bergstein, board member and treasurer for the MRVRD. “We were excited to hear from several new applicants and support so many efforts which will keep people of all ages active in The Valley.”
Recreation grants ranged in size from $405 to $6,000. New initiatives supported by the recreation district this year included a free Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program sponsored by the Warren Library and a plan for a pump track that will be built on the grounds of Waitsfield Elementary School, where people of all ages can gain bike skills. An adult softball league will benefit from improvements to Brooks Field in Warren. The MRVRD is also exploring the purchase of equipment that could be used to maintain Woodchuck Golf Course as well as Mad River Park or other recreational facilities in The Valley.
Youth recreation will also gain a boost through grants to soccer, basketball, Little League (baseball and softball) and lacrosse programs. Funding will be used to maintain key recreation fields at Couples Club, procure equipment, build a lacrosse backstop, a softball scoreboard and purchase new soccer nets.
“These investments are all vital to the quality and accessibility of sports leagues for kids in The Valley,” said Mike Nucci, board member and field manager for Mad River Park.
The Warren Skatepark and Skatium were provided with an extension of grants awarded last year for expansion and maintenance, respectively, to ensure they continue to serve a vibrant community of local and visiting and skateboarders and ice skaters of all ages and abilities.
The MRVRD offered funding to three organizations that make a huge contribution to trail-based recreation in The Valley. The Mad River Ridge Runners, a chapter of VAST, received support for safety equipment and a new groomer. The Mad River Path and Mad River Riders each received grants for the creation of new four-season trails that will be accessible from Irasville. These routes will add to over 185 miles of mapped recreation trails in The Valley, including the nonmotorized trails featured on the Mad River Valley Trails Map (fourth edition, released June 2019). These trails are identified by new trailhead kiosks installed throughout The Valley, as a part of the collaborative Mad River Valley Unified Trailhead Kiosk and Signage Project funded in part by the recreation district in 2018, managed by the Mad River Valley Planning District, and supported by many local recreation partners and volunteers over the past two years.
After more than two decades providing recreational grants to local groups, the MRVRD is now announcing an initiative of its own. The district will be seeking support on Town Meeting Day for an additional $15,000 of funding from each of the supporting towns of Waitsfield, Warren and Fayston to create a new position for a part-time recreation coordinator and facilities manager. This position would enable the MRVRD to advance goals outlined in its 2018 Strategic Plan, within five focus areas: trails, programming, events, needs assessment and planning, and parks and facilities. The new position would provide more capacity to support recreation with fundraising, volunteer recruitment, recreation planning, facility management and community access to information and opportunities.
“The Valley is lucky to have so many volunteer groups that run athletic programs, build and maintain trails and sustain other facilities,” said Liza Walker, board chair for the MRVRD. “As a centralized, three-town entity, the district is poised to add a staff position to provide leadership with planning and coordination for recreation that contributes to The Valley’s community, economy and environmental stewardship.”
For more information about recreation grants and the MRVRD, visit www.mrvrd.org