The Mad River Greenway is closed and will not open for the foreseeable future.
Waitsfield landowner Elwin Neill Jr., who allowed the path to run along his property for almost 20 years, notified the town in February of his intent to terminate the agreement in 60 days.
The Mad River Path Association, which manages the Greenway was in talks with Neill until the 60th day, April 12, but was unable to reach a resolution. Path Association members have also approached the town of Waitsfield about bringing a tax abatement program to voters that would provide local tax incentives to landowners who make their land open to the public. Such an abatement program could not be brought forth before November or next Town Meeting, 2012.
NOT THIS SUMMER
“The path is not going to be open for the summer. We might be able to get something in place by fall, but tax stabilization can’t come to a town vote until November or Town Meeting. I know the path people are working on that and working with the select board to get the revised dog ordinance done,” Neill said this week.
The issue of people allowing their dogs to run off-leash on the path came up as one of the issues the Neill family had with keeping the path open, that and people failing to pick up after their dogs.
“If there is another agreement to open the path, there won’t be dogs on it. There will not be any path on the east side of the river this summer. We are also going to close all access to the river from our land on the east side of the river, down by the Meadow Road Bridge. It’s been used to put in and take out canoes. We’re going to post it and there will be no access from Neill Farm lands,” Neill said.
In February, after the letter was sent to the town revoking the agreement, Neill said there was no specific incident that triggered the action. He said it was a tough decision.
“It seems like the public, as things are there for a very long time, fewer and fewer people are aware of the original agreement and the fact that this is not a public property. People are assuming it was public and taking it for granted. I’ve got mountain bikers and dogs tearing through my open fields, dogs pooping everywhere and running everywhere. We shouldn’t be getting complaints about dogs jumping on people when we’re at the grocery store,” Neill explained in February.
He said, this week, that he appreciated all the notes and comments from people who thanked him for having the Greenway on his family farm over the years.
“I hope we can come to some sort of agreement somewhere down the road where it can be open to the public again,” he added.
ALONG THE RIVER
The East Greenway, which closed this week, consists of the path running from the north end of the Neill property south to Meadow Road and continues south along the river to Tremblay Road.
The West Greenway, which starts at the parking lot below Small Dog and travels out to the gazebo, will remain open to the public because this section is protected by a trail access easement owned by the town of Waitsfield.
The section of the West Greenway that travels from the gazebo to parallel Route 100 and loop back into the main path, however, is also closed.
These trail sections are officially closed and anyone traveling on them will be trespassing unless they have the landowner’s permission to do so.