By Rachel Goff
Last winter, the town of Warren accepted a donation of 50 acres of land with outdoor recreation opportunities. Now, residents are starting to work on making that opportunity a reality.
On Tuesday, January 27, Mad River Path Association vice president Mac Rood came before the Warren Select Board to ask for their support in looking into the feasibility of installing a pedestrian suspension bridge on a property known as the Top Gas Parcel.
The Top Gas Parcel, which is located on Route 100 just south of its intersection with Sugarbush Access Road, is 1.5 acres of a 50-acre property that a private landowner donated to the town last October. The other 48-plus acres are located across the Mad River, hence the need for a way to access them.
"I have no idea whether this is feasible," Rood said of the path association's plan to install a pedestrian suspension bridge, and so they plan to get a conceptual engineering sense of the site before bringing the project before the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR). "I know the permitting will be challenging," Rood said. But the Warren Select Board gave him their full support.
"I think that it fits with our idea of what we want to see there," select board chair Andy Cunningham said, and Warren Conservation Commission member Damon Reed agreed.
"On the recreational front, I've spoken with several people in the biking community who are very interested in exploring the idea of trails there," select board member Matt Groom said of the wooded, hilly land across the river.
As it stands, the donated parcel is almost contiguous with other town-owned pieces of land, including Riverside Park on the west side of the river and Eaton Forest on the east side of the river, which already boast sections of multi-use trails built by the Mad River Path Association. "The more we can link that stuff together, the more attractive those trail networks will be," Groom said.
Already, the Top Gas Parcel hosts a Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce tourist information kiosk, making it "a great access site" for hiking, mountain biking and cross-country skiing, Rood said. "I think if we can do it, it will be fabulous."
"I think it's exactly what The Valley needs," Groom said.