Link trail looks to connect the dots

Photo by Madeline Hughes
Looking west toward Lake Champlain from Mt. Philo State Park, the proposed State Park Road piece of the Town Link Trail is being designed for the right side of the road.

By MADELINE HUGHES

The Charlotte Trails Committee is designing one of the most high-profile sections of the Town Link Trail – the stretch in the shadow of Mt. Philo along State Park Road – and is seeking the input of residents.

About 20 years in the making, the trail aims to span the breadth of the town connecting the town beach along Lake Champlain to Mt. Philo State Park. Multiple sections of the seven-mile trail are already completed. Earlier this year, town residents celebrated the grand opening of the U.S. Route 7 underpass, which helps link segments of the trail together.

Now the committee is looking to finalize the design for the section along State Park Road that will connect the park with the existing Melissa and Trevor Mack Trail.  That trail runs along Route 7 between State Park Road and the new underpass to the north.

Adding this new section would create a more pedestrian-friendly route through town, linking the park to other trails in the network.

Landscape architect Jim Donovan gave a presentation at the regular Nov. 13 Selectboard meeting that outlined potential variations of the State Park Road trail. One possibility is to have a trail about four-feet from the road. Another idea would be to have the trail further from the road, anywhere from 5-feet to 45-feet, depending on how the trail meanders through the trees, Donovan said.

Many people who spoke at the meeting liked the second option, noting that it was drawn behind the tree line. A straw poll of the roughly 20 people in attendance confirmed that general consensus.

The project will need a crosswalk across Mt. Philo Road connecting the park to the trail.

To build along State Park Road, a wetlands permit from the state will be needed because the trail would encounter wetlands in the vicinity of Kimball Brook. Depending on which design is chosen, a bridge or boardwalk might be needed over the wetlands.

When asked about the wetland, Donovan said, “The wetland impacts in my opinion would be minimal overall because we are at the very edge.”

Donovan described another viable option that was not part of the original trail planning study but one that emerged from conversations with property owners. He described how the trail could avoid being built alongside the road, and instead it could cross land further north of State Park Road to reach Vineyard View Road. The path could still connect with theMelissa and Trevor Mack Trail as envisioned.

Two of the three property owners whose have land in that area were open to the idea of the northern route, Donovan said.

Currently the Trails Committee is seeking grants for this next phase of project. A grant application is set to be on the Dec. 10 Selectboard meeting agenda.

In addition, the committee has indicated to the Selectboard that it may request $30,000 for the project from the town at town meeting in March.

Meanwhile, the committee is eager to hear from local residents. Design details discussed at last week’s meeting are posted online at bit.ly/CharlotteLinkTrail.

Other Selectboard business

  • The Selectboard last week also reviewed a list of potential budget allocations or special articles for town meeting: $50,000 for repairs to the Town Hall roof; $50,000 to expand public parking near the Charlotte Senior Center by the Fire Station; a possible library bond that will be discussed at the board’s Dec. 17 meeting.
  • An audit of town finances has revealed that the general fund currently has a $60,000 surplus.

The story was corrected at 12:46 p.m. Dec. 3 for the name of the trail andJim Donovan’s title.

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