By Julia Purdy
The Mendon Economic Development Committee met in a public meeting Wednesday, June 6, to continue discussing ways to improve Mendon’s economic picture.
Bryan Sell, a board member of the Pine Hill Partnership, shared with the committee a preliminary plan for an east-west mountain bike trail that would link Killington bike trails with Pine Hill Park in Rutland, passing through Mendon.
Rutland County is a premier mountain biking destination in the U.S. and confers a large economic benefit to the area, Sell said. He noted that the Kingdom Trails in East Burke, a well-known biking destination, brings in $9 million in earnings and a total economic impact of more than $30 million, citing the report “Economic and Fiscal Impact Analysis of the Vermont Trails and Greenway Council Member Organizations.”
Mountain bike tourists who spend a few days in Vermont very often include Pine Hill Park as a stop on their trip, Sell continued, noting, “It is common that visitors from out of state come in new sports cars with $10k bike on top of their cars.”
In addition to connecting trail networks between Rutland and Killington, Sell suggested that a shuttle service could take riders and their bikes back up the mountain.
Sell moved to Mendon from Pennsylvania a year ago and views this location as a “hub” for recreation. His wife landed a job at the Rutland Regional Medical Center as a physician assistant. Sell is putting his energies into using his extensive trail-building experience to help develop mountain biking routes here.
Referring to the potential for economic benefits, MEDC chair Dick Wilcox asked, “What’s in it for Mendon?”
Sell replied that the trail could connect to lodging establishments that will accommodate bikers. He also said mountain bikers would shop and dine in area establishments, noting that bikers and breweries go particularly well together.
Most of the trails would be done by the Pine Hill Partnership in partnership with Killington Mountain Bike Club and possibly others. Most of the work would be done by hand, in a sustainable manner, he said.
The project is asking for Mendon’s cooperation in working with businesses and land owners.
The group did a little brainstorming about possible routes and challenges such as the Rutland Town Forest and a Meadow Lake Drive trail crossing as well as attempting to avoid crossing the Appalachian and Long Trails by routing the proposed trail to the junction with Route 4.
Mark Latzky asked about year-round use of mountain bike trails. Sell responded that the trails would be multi-use.
Sell plans to reach out to the Catamount backcountry ski trail and has talked with the planners of the newly proposed north-south Velomont Trail, which aims to connect Killington with Stowe.
Though no action was taken at Wednesday’s meeting, the committee viewed the project favorably.