Commentary: Concerns about the new town trail

Photo by Lynn Monty

I like Trails. Calm reflective strolls listening to birds in the trees. What I don’t like are bad trails shoved down our throat. Recently the Trails Committee received ten minutes in the Selectboard to approve a half million dollar “Part A of Phase 1” request for funding that was not the funding that the public voted on.

In fact, it was 65 thousand dollars short. You see, the actual matching grant needed to be put up by the Town (our money) was not the 40K but 105K. Really, and no one saw this coming, a clerical error? Ten percent, 25 percent, aww, it is just money. Lots of money.

And, the money was to remove the entire tree line down the north side of State Park Road. Fifteen feet in a 400 plus foot long retaining wall to protect the wetlands after going through it. A mini road off the side of the road. We are talking about over a hundred mature trees of all kinds, hardwoods and softwoods, virtually stripping away the canopy that now covers the road. How do you think that would look from the overlook of Mt. Philo?

The “study” suggested this to be the best route. That firmly goes against the Trail Mission statement to minimize disturbance. Who paid for the study? Three people during the meeting wanted to know how much the three parts of Phase 1 would cost. No answer. How many phases?

Now the Trails motto is not a trail for residents, but for visitors and residents, especially with the, (wait for it), future park and ride behind the town hall with the CCTA transit bus bringing them in. For whom, not the residents, that is for sure. This intermodal transportation model was taken from big cities where trees aren’t so prevalent, it does in no way meet the character of Chittenden County’s most rural town.

Cutting huge swaths of trees and building roads through the woods is not Charlotte. I am sure the animals don’t like it. There need to be clarity of the scope of the project, and a lot more public input. Those half million dollar per section funding is adding up while you’re not looking.

Editor’s note: Talk of potential development of the Town Link Trail section on State Park Road sparked lively discussion at the Charlotte Town Selectboard meeting on July 10. Miscommunication arose prior to the meeting when Selectboard members received only one page of a six-page grant application. All Selectboard members have the full grant application at this time. The Selectboard voted unanimously to approve a letter of intent to apply for the $676,620 VTRANS grant to develop the State Park Road section of the Town Link Trail. This in no way obligates the town to accept the grant if it is awarded in December, nor will the town incur any financial burden at this time. The project is slated to connect East and West Charlotte under Route 7.