The town of Warren is applying for a grant from VTrans’s bicycle and pedestrian program in the amount of $1,755,691 to complete a paved recreational path on the Sugarbush Access Road. The 10-foot-wide path would run 1.1 miles. The town applied for the same grant in 2019, which it did not receive, though VTrans provided feedback on the application. The Mad River Path is administering the grant for which the town of Warren is applying. The grant, if received, would cover the first three of four phases of the path’s development.
Phase one, or the “orange phase,” goes from Inferno Road to Paradise Deli and would cost an estimated $805,256. The second, or “blue phase,” goes from Paradise Deli to German Flats Road and would cost $709,559. Phase three, or the “pink phase,” goes from German Flats Road to Eurich Pond Road and would cost an estimated $240,876. The fourth phase, from Alpine Options down to Route 100, would be the last section completed and would require additional funding. The new path will be developed on both sides of the Sugarbush Access Road depending on topography and existing paths or access points.
Margo Wade of Sugarbush Resort and Ross Saxton of the Mad River Path spoke to the Warren Select Board about the project at its May 24 meeting. As the grant requires a 20% match, the Mad River Path had asked both Sugarbush and the town of Warren to match a total of $351,000 for the project. Wade said that Sugarbush will contribute $200,000, more than the $150,000 the Mad River Path had asked the resort to contribute. Saxton asked that the town also contribute $200,000, which he said would allow for an additional $50,000 “buffer” for increased costs of building due to inflation. “It’s safe to assume that things are going to keep going up,” he said. Select board members asked whether private fundraising may help cover the cost. Saxton said that may be an option, though seemed reluctant to rely on private funds.
Saxton said the majority of the path would be in the right of way and the remaining land is owned by Sugarbush Resort. He said that the path would give people access to other recreational areas, such as the loop between Golf Course Road and Inferno Road and would keep people off of the busy road with a narrow shoulder. He also noted that it would benefit employees of businesses in the area getting to work, particularly if Sugarbush creates additional employee housing, as it plans to do.
If the town gets the grant, a municipal project manager would need to be hired to manage construction. The Mad River Path would assist with community outreach and engagement, Saxton said. He said there have been discussions about a path since the 1980s, though 2016 was when “things got serious.” After not receiving the grant in 2019, the Mad River Path, the Mad River Valley Planning District, Sugarbush and the town reconvened and took VTrans’s feedback into account. Saxton said he is confident the application is now much stronger.
The grant application is due June 8. Saxton and Mad River Valley Planning District director Josh Schwartz are working on the application together. They anticipate providing a draft of the application to the town by June 3.
MAD RIVER MARATHON
In other business discussed at the May 24 select board meeting, the board approved a permit for the 11th annual Mad River Marathon to take place in The Valley on July 10, 2022. Organizer Ian Sweet said the marathon’s biggest challenge is having sufficient accommodations for all the runners, in large part due to the wedding industry dominating so much of local accommodations in the summertime.
Chris White, owner of West Crescent Farm in West Brookfield, spoke to the board about establishing a juice truck named Juice Magic at the East Warren Community Market. Root Juice was previously selling juice outside the market but is moving out of state, according to White. The board recommended White get permission from Rootswork, which leases the building, before they would issue a permit. “You have our support,” board member Devin Klein Corrigan said. “Talk to the right people, get all those things lined up” before the town would issue a permit.
Select board member Bob Ackland gave a brief update on the town’s traffic calming project. He has been working with a local landscape designer, primarily in designing intersections, and anticipates bringing the design to a select board meeting in June.