Commentary: Facts about the Town Link Trail

Photo by Makayla Bonilla

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.

The town voted twice for the $40,000 for trails. We explained at Town Meeting and on Front Porch Forum that we wanted to use that money as leverage for a grant. That is what we’re currently doing.

Silent majority: Now is the time to let your voices be heard. Please write to all the Selectboard members, to voice your support for the Town Link Trail and this grant.

Fact: It was Dean Block who was sending the grant application to the Selectboard members when only page 6 came through. All Selectboard members have the full grant application at this time.

Fact: The Tree Warden has visited the site of the potential Town Link Trail section on State Park Rd. and he told several Selectboard members that there are 6-8 trees of value that may need to be taken down. The Trails Committee, Conservation Commission, and the Selectboard will be looking at ways for the trail to go around the trees, if possible, on Monday night during the site visit.

Fact: Part of this VTrans grant application includes getting the wetlands permit and any other permits we may need. Construction can’t happen until all permits are received.

Fact: The State Park Road section of the trail is a stand-alone section. When completed we will have a 2 1/4 mile trail that starts at Mt. Philo State Park and ends at Greenbush Rd. via Common Way. Residents and visitors can walk/bike from Mt. Philo all the way into West Charlotte Village via the trail, underpass, and a short ride on Greenbush Rd. Even without the section from co-housing to West Charlotte village, we will still have a great path and a great connection between East and West Charlotte under Route 7.

Fact: This grant has received a letter of support from Peter Keating of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission. I refer you to their website for the full plan of what they do. The financial section of transportation notes a shift in transportation funding from roadway investments and into more transportation alternatives like walking and cycling projects.

Fact: The reason the State is choosing to invest in transportation alternatives is that our future generations, the ones who will be buying our homes and our businesses, are looking to walk and bike within their communities and to and from work.

A Brookings Institute report states, “Based on the latest Census data from the 2013 American Community Survey, changes are underway for younger and older commuters alike … By and large, millennials and Generation X are leading the charge toward a range of alternate modes, including public transportation and walking, while baby boomers continue to use their cars at high levels. Young millennials also represent the commuters who most frequently take public transportation (5.8 percent) and walk to work (6.6). They’re not only ditching the car in traditional multimodal hubs like San Francisco, but in smaller metros as well.”

“Yet, driving dips aren’t simply limited to younger millennials; older millennials and Generation X commuters are shifting away from private vehicles in nearly equal numbers. Workers ages 25 to 54 saw their driving rate fall by 0.9 percentage points between 2007 and 2013.”

And should you think that this doesn’t apply to Vermont:
A VPIRG report from October 2014 titled Millennials in Motion states:

“Over the last decade, Young Americans have experienced the greatest changes: driving less; taking transit, biking and walking more; and seeking out places to live in cities and walkable communities where driving is an option, not a necessity. Now is the time for the Nation’s transportation policies to acknowledge, accommodate, and support Millennials’ demands for a greater array of transportation choices.”

If you are part of the silent, or not so silent, majority, write emails to Selectboard members, to show your support for Charlotte trails and this grant.

MORE: Peter Demick has his say.