The Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce will leave its current home on Bridge Street and relocate to the Route 100/17 intersection in part of the Localfolk Smokehouse building next month.
Chamber executive director Eric Friedman said that the new space is about 700 square feet, has great views to the south, has restrooms and will have space for informational kiosks about local community recreation and environmental stewardship groups.
A Mad River Valley Recreation Hub is currently under development that will also be based on that site, with parking for up to 80 vehicles being added and a bridge constructed over the Mill Brook to connect Irasville and Waitsfield Village to The Valley’s existing trail networks. Additional work includes creating a crosswalk network to safely bring people into Irasville and Waitsfield.
The recreation hub is made possible by a $408,000 Vermont Outdoor Recreation and Economic Collaborative (VOREC) grant.
The new chamber welcome center is located in a space many may know as Pete’s Eats, between Stark Mountain Bike Works and the Localfolk Smokehouse. Friedman said that he expects the onsite restaurant will be open by the time the rec hub is operational.
There will unified signage identifying the welcome center, Smokehouse, rec hub and bike shop.
Friedman, one of the community leaders to help pull together the plans to apply for the VOREC grant, said that the grant application and plans to connect the village to the recreation trails relied on existing relationships between community organizations, such as the Mad River Valley Trails Collaborative, the Mad River Valley Rec District, the Mad River Valley Path, the Mad River Valley Riders, Friends of the Mad River and the chamber.
“As we explored the idea further, we realized we needed a municipal entity to be the applicant and the rec district was the logical group. We were successful and we got the largest VOREC grant in the state. This project represents the largest public investment in outdoor recreation in the history of The Valley,” he added.
He said foliage is a really busy time at the chamber and moving after foliage in November made more sense.
“We’re setting things up for a soft opening. We’ll use the winter months to develop a plan and implement how we’re using the space. We want to use this new space as a front-facing home for the various partner organizations and want to make it feel like their home too,” Friedman added.
“We’re going to be seeking to expand our group of volunteers to meet visitors and answer questions to include members of our partner organizations so that visitors can seek information about local trails and recreation from the people with the best knowledge,” he added.
Friedman will be before the Waitsfield Development Review Board next week for a change of use permit for the new location.