Laurie Thompson, Charlotte Trails Committee
Welcome to Trails Talk, Part 2. In this column we will continue to answer the questions on the Orchard Road Computers website. The first five questions were answered in the Sept. 6 edition of The Charlotte News.
Q: I understand the path will be made of gravel. If this is true, how many road bicyclists do you expect to use this trail system? Is this gravel user friendly to strollers and wheelchairs?
A: We do not expect road bikes to use the Town Link Trail. We do expect to see families walking and riding on the trails and those with hybrid bikes as well. This gravel is user friendly to strollers and wheelchairs. We are striving to make as much of the Town Link Trail as ADA compliant as possible.
Q: How much will the cost be for maintenance? Who will be in charge of maintaining it?
A: Currently, other than mowing the edges of the trail, all the day-to-day maintenance is done by Trails Committee members. We do anticipate that there will be larger maintenance work that will need to be done every 10-20 years on different sections. Currently the Trails Committee has $5,000 in its budget that can be used only as matching funds for grants. Once the trail is complete, we would request that the town keep that money in our budget to use for the larger maintenance work on the trail.
Q: I understand our town has insurance if someone gets hurt. How much will the premiums go up each time if someone sues the town? How much money will be put aside for this in case this happens?
A: Right now in Charlotte we have the Pease Mountain Trails, the Plouffe Lane Trails, Williams Woods Trails, Charlotte Wildlife Refuge Trails, the Cohousing Trail and the Melissa & Trevor Mack Trail. All these current trails, as well as the Charlotte Beach with its recreation fields, tennis courts, a Frisbee golf course and the ice rink, are town recreation areas. Charlotte and most other towns are insured by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, which makes recommendations on appropriate levels of coverage for various town facilities, including the beach, tennis courts, ball fields, skating rink and the disc golf course, as well as the town’s trails. VLCT has not in the past raised premiums due to the development of new trails.
Q: Will there be cellular service throughout the trails if someone gets hurt and needs to call Charlotte Fire & Rescue? And if someone does call Charlotte Fire & Rescue, are there plans/access points for them to access the trail where the person needs help?
A: Once the underpass is complete and the Cohousing and Melissa & Trevor Mack sections of the trail are connected, there will be more signs. We will be putting up mileage signs every 1⁄4 mile on the trail. If someone needs to call Fire & Rescue, they can refer to the mileage signs to note where they are on the Trail. For the section that will be complete this fall from Common Way to State Park Road, there is access for Fire & Rescue from State Park Road, Route 7, the ball fields, and Cohousing; that’s four entry points for a two-mile section of the trail. There is cellular service along the current sections of the trail.
Q: I understand trees will be cut down to build the trails. Please tell us how many trees will be taken down. Where these trees will be taken down. Please tell us the opinion of the tree warden. Please tell us the opinion of the Conservation Committee as there are wetlands involved. What are the options to avoid not cutting down trees? Are you constructing trails in the wetlands?
A: Please see the article in the July 26, 2017 edition of The Charlotte News to read the opinion of the tree warden. Currently there are two options for the Town Link Trail (TLT) section along State Park Road. Option 1: The trail would follow State Park Road along the north side from Mt. Philo Road to the beginning of the Melissa & Trevor Mack section of the TLT. With this option there would be some trees that would need to come down. However, there may be ways to go around the trees that the tree warden and Conservation Commission think are the most important. And there is also interest in planting trees along the State Park Road section if it is built. Option 2: The trail would go away from the road through the wetlands section of State Park Road and meander through the wetlands on a boardwalk. In this option, trees would be cut, but the trail could be built around any trees that the tree warden or Conservation Commission think need to stay. In either case, a wetlands permit would be needed from the state prior to any construction.
Thanks for all the questions! Stay tuned for the answers to the next group of questions when Trails Talk continues in the next Charlotte News.