The Mad River Recreation Hub has received two critical town approvals for the project which will connect Irasville and Waitsfield Village to The Valley’s recreational trail network.
The recreation hub is funded by a Vermont Outdoor Recreation and Economic Collaborative grant of $408,000. The project is a collaboration between the Mad River Rec District, the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Mad River Riders, Friends of the Mad River, the Mad River Path Association, the Mad River Planning District, and the Mad River Trails Collaborative.
At the end of August, the Waitsfield Development Review Board approved two permits for the project. One is for the bridge over the Mill Brook that will connect the back of the Localfolk Smokehouse property to land on Dana Hill Road owned by the Laskowski family. The rec hub project also includes extending access to the Mad River Path to bring people from that site into the village areas without having them bike or walk on Route 100. Those routes are still being finalized. One is likely to be at the south end of the Smokehouse property and offer a trail crossing on Route 100, connecting to Dugway Road between Mad River Real Estate and Mad Rover to give people access to the Fiddler’s Walk trails that run along the river and connect to Irasville.
The second permit approves a sprawling parking plan for the rec hub and new chamber visitor center at the Smokehouse property. The property also houses a bike shop and a restaurant that is currently not in operation, as well as four apartments. It sits at the intersection of Routes 17 and 100.
After hearings on the two permits on August 22, 2023, the DRB issued its approvals on August 31. The parking permit expands existing parking to accommodate users of the recreation hub and restore the riparian buffer along the Mill Brook. There are currently 62 parking spaces on the property and the parking plan calls for adding 18 new parking spaces.
Per the town’s parking requirements, the restaurant, albeit closed, requires 40 parking spaces and the bike shop needs 1.6 spaces. The four apartments require six parking spaces and the chamber’s visitor center and office require 2.3 spaces for a total of 50 spaces needed for the current mix of uses on the site.
Town zoning does not define parking requirements for trailheads, but the DRB accepted the applicant’s concept that the Lareau Swimhole has 30 parking spaces, hence there is a need for a total of 80 parking spaces.
Boulders will be used to define the edges of the parking rows and protect stream banks. A state stormwater permit may also be required. The permit approves the request to restore the riparian buffer along the Mill Brook. The parking plan also addresses how runoff from Route 17 into the Smokehouse property and ultimately the Mill Brook can be addressed.
VTrans is currently studying plans to realign the Route 17 and Route 100 intersection and that may result in changes to both the access to the Mad River Path and the long open curb cut that currently exists along the entire front of the Localfolk Smokehouse.
The separate permit that allows the bridge over the Mill Brook okays the construction of a pedestrian/bicycle bridge to serve as a trailhead linking existing trails on private land and the Howe Block of the Camel’s Hump State Forest. The bridge will be 87 feet long and 4 feet wide. It will slope upward from north to south at a pitch of 1:12 and is ADA compliant for wheelchair access.
The DRB found that, per the application, the bridge will not result in an increase in flood levels during flooding nor increase the risk of flooding to surrounding properties, facilities or structures from flooding or erosion. Similarly, the design of the bridge is such that it will be sufficiently anchored to prevent flotation, collapse, release, or lateral movement during flooding.
With the two town approvals, the rec hub project has all the local permits needed to proceed, according to Mad River Recreation District director Laura Arnesen. Arnesen also noted that earlier in August, the rec district, on behalf of the project partners, signed the official VOREC grant agreement so that reimbursement for work underway will be forthcoming.
The grant was awarded in 2022 and work must be completed by 2024.