The Waitsfield Select Board has voted to explore a new location for a crosswalk that will connect the Mad River Valley Rec Hub to Irasville and Waitsfield Village.
The crosswalk is part of a Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC) grant which will develop the rec hub and link Waitsfield’s commercial districts to the recreational trail networks in the Howe Block of the Camel’s Hump State Forest and then to other trail networks beyond. The rec hub and a visitors’ center at the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce office are behind and within the Localfolk Smokehouse property. The $408,000 VOREC was the largest awarded in the state last year.
The connection will be made via a bridge over the Mill Brook connecting the rec hub to trail networks. As part of that, the rec hub parcel will be connected to an existing section of the Mad River Path on the east side of Route 100. That path, Fiddler’s Walk, that runs from Fiddlers Green north along the Mad River and then ascends into Irasville at the south end of the Irasville Cemetery.
The southern crossing of Route 100 will not be an official VTrans crosswalk but it will be a trail crossing and will be marked as such. It will connect people to Dugway Road via the crossing between Mad River Real Estate and Mad River Outfitters. From Dugway Road, people will access Fiddler’s Walk
At the board’ s February 13 meeting, Mad River Path Association executive director Ross Saxton told the select board that the northern crosswalk would likely need to cross Route 100 on the south side of the entrance to Irasville Common to connect to the sidewalk in front of Brother’s Building and from there to more sections of the Mad River Path.
Saxton noted that the existing Fiddler’s Walk would need to be widened from 3 feet to 5 feet to meet VTrans standards.
Board members were generally in agreement that this location for the northern crosswalk was much better than an earlier proposal to have a new section of path created that ran from Dugway Road, up an embankment to the Blue Stone parking lot and then along Route 100 where it would cross to the west side somewhere between a private resident and Addison West.
Select board chair Christine Sullivan raised the issue of how much of the work of pursuing that new crosswalk alignment would fall onto the plate of town administrator Annie Decker-Dell’Isola – whose plate is already pretty full, Sullivan pointed out.
In addition to engaging with VTrans on specifics of the new alignment, work will need to be done with property owners along the proposed route, Saxton said.
“My concern is who is going to be overseeing the project and the fact that Ross, you’ve got one month left with the path association and we won’t have you to see this through. Given what the town has going on, I don’t know that there’s a whole lot of free time in Annie’s schedule to handle this,” Sullivan said.
Saxton said that there would be a new executive director for the Mad River Path by the beginning of April.
“I’m committed to answering questions and be a free volunteer consultant. I’ll continue to be involved as needed beyond March and April. This project will continue to be a priority for the path and the new executive director will be picking it up,” Saxton said.
Laura Arnesen, director of the Mad River Recreation District, the lead partner of the VOREC grant project, pointed out that she is the overall project manager for the grant and said she is prepared to have Saxton hand off things to her during the gap between his leaving and a new director taking over.
“In terms of continuity, he can get me up to speed and I can keep it going until a new director can step in,” she said.