The 7-acre Tardy parcel, a wedge of land along the Mad River bounded by Lareau Farm on the west and Route 100 on the east, will become the Virginia Farley Riverside Park.
With the help of the Vermont Land Trust, the town conserved that parcel in 2003. It has sat largely unused (except for construction equipment when a nearby bridge over the Mad River was replaced a couple of years ago).
Farley, longtime local resident and conservationist died last February and friends, family and close colleagues asked the town for permission to establish a memorial park on the Tardy parcel and began raising funds after the select board approved the plan.
The plan, which was approved last spring, calls for installing a stone bench, plaque and flowers and making modest improvements to make the parcel more inviting including entrance signage, parking for four to six cars, a path to the memorial bench and an interpretive trail. Other work will include addressing invasive species including knotweed.
The planning group has raised almost $36,000 to cover the costs of creating the park and is fundraising to raise another $25,000 to fund an endowment (to be held by the town) to help cover long-term stewardship costs and maintenance of the memorial elements.
Phil Huffman, a member of the park fundraising committee, and the Waitsfield Conservation Commission appeared at a recent Waitsfield Select Board meeting along with Liza Walker from the Vermont Land Trust to talk about the process of transferring the $36,000 from the land trust to the town for use in developing the park.
Walker explained that the town and land trust need to create a memorandum of understanding to transfer the funds for the park.
“This is something we’ve done before when the town has partnered with the Vermont Land Trust to raise funds for projects like the Scrag Gateway. It’s an agreement that says that the town agrees to receive these funds to be used for these purposes,” she explained.
“We are pleased to be at this phase in six to seven months since we began accepting gifts for the memorial park and to use the funds to improve the Tardy parcel which not too many people in the community know about. We’re excited to be part of its enhancements and improvements,” Walker added.
Huffman told the board that the conservation commission realized the need for a management plan for the parcel and said that the commission was undertaking a management plan to bring to the select board in January.
“We need a management plan. That came up at the last conservation commission meeting. For any other town-owned parcel that would have been done when the land was conveyed. But in that transaction there was not a covenant requiring a management plan like there is for most parcels,” Huffman explained.
Select board member Jordan Gonda asked how the management plan would be developed and Huffman said that it would follow the process used at Wu Ledges and the Scrag Gateway project, except at 7 acres, this plan would be much less complicated than plans for those two larger projects.
“We’d look at the riparian frontage and river corridor aspect of it as its highest ecological significance. Invasives are an issue. Basically we’d go through an abbreviated process to try and have a basic plan developed in a couple of months, some time in January, for consideration by the commission and then the select board. This might be a first-cut interim management plan,” Huffman explained.
He also said that at the last meeting of the conservation commission the issue of not creating a new overcrowded swim hole came up, but in general commissioners felt that the nature of the property is not conducive to swimming or river access.