About 70 people turned out to enjoy live music, great food, neighborhood camaraderie and the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new underpass under Route 7 on the Charlotte Town Link Trail. Charlotters of all ages arrived by foot and by bike to participate in the grand opening.

Laurie Thompson, co-chair of the Trails Committee, Lane Morrison, chair of the Selectboard, and Clark Hinsdale, who initiated the idea of the underpass with the State of Vermont many years ago, all spoke at the ceremony before the ribbon cutting. Several local farms and businesses donated food for the event.

The new Charlotte Trails Map was also unveiled at this celebration and is now available at Town Hall.

The Town Trail connects major parts of our town
The history of Charlotte is fraught with competition between the West Village and Baptist Corners (East Charlotte) over such matters as the location of the Town Hall, the Central School, road maintenance facilities and other civic structures. Today, however, most of such competition has been replaced by cooperation, and the underpass certainly is one such success.

While today is primarily a celebration, I would ask that you join me in a moment of silence in memory of two young lives tragically lost but who are remembered in naming the easterly portion of this trail system.  Melissa and Trevor Mack were beloved children and grandchildren of the combination of two stalwart Charlotte families—the Prestons and the Macks.

On a lighter note, here is a poem for today, and I assure you, I am no Garrison Keillor.  

How the underpass came to pass
Our trails started out without much precision,
And while on the Selectboard we passed a “Trails Vision.”
Showing key points and places we wanted to connect
By routes both straight and indirect.
(Showing anything more than that
Would lead to many a landowner spat.)

My land acquisition started in 1995.
At the Charlotte Berry Farm I did arrive.
And as any farmer wants at their core,
All I wanted was to purchase the land next door.
So naturally I purchased 700 acres more.

And so in the years that did ensue,
I bought up most of the land on the east side too.
At first with the Charlotte and Vermont Land Trusts,
We conserved the Berry Farm – it was a MUST!
Then together with the Freeman Foundation
The Little League fields reached realization.

But if anyone thought that we were now through
With our great land trust friends we did Berry Farm II.
Conserving from State Park to Old Higbee Road
That’s when the seeds of an underpass were sowed.

With the Route 7 widening coming at last
A farm on both sides could request an underpass.
So the tunnel was built for the farming of land
Which we knew at the time was a slight “slight of hand.”

And today there are many people to thank
Volunteer trails folks, selectmen of rank.
And like our friends on the Mexican border
We find crossing below is strictly in order.

Clark Hinsdale