Committee in Charlotte offers five-year plan for the Town Link Trail

Staff Writer

The Trails Committee has presented an ambitious five-year plan to complete the Town Link Trail.

Trails Committee co-chair Laurie Thompson told the Charlotte Selectboard at the Sept. 23 meeting that they have a group of volunteers ready. The goal is to build the half-mile section of the trail from the Melissa and Trevor Mack Memorial Trail along State Park Road to the Mt. Philo parking lot during October and November.

“We want to get the sections completed in this order,” Thompson said. “State Park Road first and then Ferry Road from the village to the train station, and third, Cohousing to Charlotte Village,” said Thompson.

She said because the work will be done by volunteers, including people who “are skilled and knowledgeable” in road construction, the State Park Road section can be completed for $30,000, or “hopefully less,” which will pay for materials and gas.

The Trails Committee requested the selectboard’s approval to spend $30,000 from the $64,000  in the Trails Reserve Fund.

The Ferry Road section is a half-mile long and the committee estimates it would cost $20 a foot or a total of $52,000.

The two-mile section from the Champlain Valley Cohousing community to the Charlotte West Village is the Trail Committee’s third priority because there are still four properties that need easements for the trail.

If they can’t get the easements, Thompson said the trail from Cohousing to the West Village will run along the eastern edge of those properties and would require building a bridge over Thorpe Brook. They estimate that bridge will cost about $50,000. The cost of this section they estimate to be $261,000.

The Trails Committee is requesting that the selectboard put funding into the budget over the next five years to complete these two sections of the Town Link Trail for the total cost of $313,200, which comes to $62,240 per year.

Thompson said that the impact on the tax rate would about .007 cents.

The section of the Town Link Trail from the train station to Lake Road is through Mike and Margaret Russell’s property. The Russells have been working on it for several years and the trail is in good shape, Thompson said.

“So, the $313,200 that we’re requesting over five years would get us from Mt. Philo State Park all the way to Lake Road,” she said

Thompson encouraged completing the trail soon. She said when the first section of the Town Link Trail through the Champlain Valley Cohousing property was built in 2012, it cost $12 a foot. When the second section was built in 2014, the cost had gone up to $15 a foot. She said that Road Commissioner Junior Lewis estimates that the next two sections of the trail will cost $20 a foot.

“Lastly, I’d just like to say that last week around the world we witnessed marches to show concern about climate change. Today at the United Nations, a Global Climate Summit was held,” Thompson said. “Charlotte does a great job of conserving our land, protecting our rivers and wetlands and recycling our waste. Then we all jump in our cars and pollute the air.”

The Trails Committee wanted the selectboard to approve their submission of an Act 250 amendment to State Park Road. Although there is already an Act 250 permit, it needs an amendment because the bike trail would be a different use, Thompson said.

Members of the Trails Committee wanted the selectboard to approve the amendment application as soon as possible because they think it will be several weeks before they get the approval and would like to start construction in October.

But the committee didn’t have a finished amendment to show the selectboard. Members of the selectboard said they weren’t comfortable approving an application that they hadn’t seen.

Selectman Fritz Tegatz said that they’d heard, “You have to approve this today or else we’re going to be late,” from the Trails Committee before.

The selectboard scheduled a 5:15 p.m. site visit to the State Park Road trail site before their next meeting on Oct. 14 and considering approving the Act 250 permit amendment later during their meeting.

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