$75,000 awarded for Killington trails, $141,488 for Velomont
By Polly Mikula
The Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC), a division of the Forests, Parks & Recreation branch in the Agency of Natural Resources, has selected 24 projects throughout the state to receive $4,546,813 in community grants.
It was a competitive process with over $7.1 million submitted in requests, according Jackie Dagger, VOREC program manager. Trail systems and the correlated planning, support infrastructure, wayfinding and marketing were the most common projects awarded.
The town of Killington received $75,000 to construct a 3.4 mile new mountain bike trail in Gifford Woods, as well as to make bike-friendly enhancements to the Welcome Center and create a new trail map.
Planning Consultant Lisa Davis and Recreation Director Sarah Newell wrote the FY22 VOREC community grant application.
“We had to submit an expression of interest in October,” Davis explained. “I guess they received over 100 letters of interest and then invited only 30 of us to submit a full application, which was due at the end of November… it was a very detailed application.”
Awards were originally expected to be announced in December, but were delayed multiple times. They were finally announced March 16.
“Due to the scale and complexity of the applications submitted, the full application review committee took necessary steps following their initial scoring to connect with applicants on outstanding questions before making final recommendations to the Dept. of Forest, Parks, & Recreation Commissioner and VOREC Chair, Michael Snyder,” Dagger explained.
A work plan, budget, and project map were required as part of the application process and will serve as the basis for the formal grant agreement between the Dept. of Forest, Parks, and Recreation (DFPR) and each recipient.
The town of Killington has constructed over seven miles of new mountain bike trails on state and federal land in the past five years, according to the town’s VOREC application. So the new 3.4 mile westerly loop would be a significant addition to the town’s cross country mountain bike offerings. Over $300,000 has already been invested in the town’s Sherburne Trail network with funding coming from a variety of public and private sources.
The choice to locate the new trail in Gifford Woods served multiple purposes.
First, “the new trail will extend toward the proposed Velomont trail. The Velomont is an end-to-end trail that is expected to increase tourism in the way the Appalachian and Long Trails do,” the town stated in the VOREC application.
Second, “Gifford Woods has long lagged in visitors compared with the other state parks,” the town wrote in its application. “However, since the addition of mountain biking at Gifford Woods, park visitation has increased significantly. Adding a new mountain trail to this network will further increase visitation to this state park and grow Gifford Woods as a recreational asset.”
Killington had hoped to be able to build the new trail this summer and have it completed by the fall, but the delayed announcement and unclear timeline for the next steps could jeopardize that goal.
“We’re now waiting for more information about the next steps,” Davis said.
The total project cost for the trail expansion is $126,000, Davis added. So in addition to the $75,000 grant, the Killington Mountain Bike Club and town of Killington have each pledged $25,000 toward the project, and the Killington Pico Area Association has pledged $1,000 in-kind.
“We probably should have asked for more [grant funding],” Davis said, half joking. “Live and learn. Maybe we’ll have another chance down the road.”
VOREC community grant program awards
- $408,019 for Waitsfield
- Developing a recreation hub including a welcome center with parking and restrooms. Trails include Mad River Riders’ 60+ mile trail network which connects to Camel’s Hump State Forest. The project will also build a new pedestrian bridge across Route 100 to link the hub to Waitsfield’s walkable downtown.
- $375,000 for Pownal
- Improving community access to a 700+ acre recreation area and trail network with trailhead parking, a pedestrian bridge, way-finding, trail work.
- $331,809 for Bethel
- Planning and building an interconnected network of parks, greenways, and multi-use trails. Upgrading trails and developing improved mapping/signage to enhance the accessibility of the network. Developing better local and regional partnerships.
- $300,000 for Burlington
- Piloting no-cost gear and tool rentals, providing sailing camp scholarships to youth who identify as BIPOC, and building an urban bike park and wetlands walk.
- $293,478 for the towns of Sharon, Richmond and statewide
- The Vermont River Conservancy and White River Partnership are collaborating to improve white water access infrastructure at multiple sites, coordinate site stewardship, and pilot the Vermont River Access Collaborative. The goal is to increase access to flowing water for all.
- $262,088 for West Windsor
- Ascutney Outdoors, Ascutney Trails Association, and the town of West Windsor are collaborating to build a trail between the village and the mountain, construct new mountain bike trails at the ski area, upgrade the rope tow, provide free equipment rentals for the children’s ski program, and marketing efforts.
- $225,000 for Groton
- Upgrading trail that connects to Groton State Forest and the Cross Vermont Trail. Building a parking area and trailhead with improved signage. Developing a master plan for a future green space and bridge that will directly connect the trail to the village.
- $213,000 for Montpelier
- Strengthening downtown connection to existing outdoor recreation assets through the construction of two connector trails and design of an urban Whitewater Park.
- $200,000 for Hardwick
- Designing and engineering for new Gateway Park. Reconstructing historic pedestrian bridge connecting community park to downtown center. Develop a marketing plan and building regional partnerships.
- $200,000 for Craftsbury (Sterling College)
- Building a public-facing community wellness center and outdoor recreation hub to serve as a way-finding point at the confluence of three trail systems in Craftsbury village. Renovating an existing building to include a climbing gym, recreation programming and workshops, and equipment rentals.
- $197,900 for Wolcott
- Building a multi-use trail network in Wolcott’s new town forest, including installing trail signage, a network map, and trailhead infrastructure. Trail network will provide a safe route between the elementary school, recreation field and the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail.
- $190,500 for Ludlow
- Redeveloping the Dorsey Park skatepark, to enable the town to host camps and Okemo Mountain School to do off-season training.
- $173,000 for Derby
- The Derby Fish & Game Club is fixing a dam that holds up a fishing pond. The pond is a popular place for children to learn how to fish and for seniors with accessibility issues to enjoy fishing. Improving the accessibility of both the parking area and cement platform.
- $159,978 for Vergennes
- Building an accessible 2,330-foot-long connector trail with wetland boardwalk. The multi-modal trail will start at the high school and connect to local businesses.
- $150,000 for the towns of St. Johnsbury, Lyndon, Montpelier, Randolph, Poultney, Killington, and Castleton
- Providing technical assistance to outdoor recreation businesses in Washington, Caledonia, and Rutland counties. Partnering with outdoor recreation organizations, trail builders, and education institutions to develop professional training programs. Graduates from these programs would be prime candidates for hire by partner businesses.
- $141,488 for the town of Randolph and statewide
- Collaborating with Vermont Huts Association to complete a master planning process for the Velomont Trail. Developing trail way-finding and signage.
- $125,500 for St. Johnsbury
- Developing wayfinding for bikers and pedestrians to use the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. Starting a bike lending library and free/low-cost bike, snowshoe, exercise programming and marketing.
- $122,965 for Northfield
- Restoring a trail, removing invasive species, developing and implementing a wayfinding master plan that will connect the trail to town and expanding outdoor gear lending at the local public library.
- $99,726 for South Hero
- Collaborating with partners in South Hero to develop a plan for safe and connected biking and walking routes connected to the increase in traffic experienced from the Local Motion Bike Ferry.
- $97,650 for Danville
- Creating a transportation and recreation hub in the former Train Station. The hub will offer amenities, ADA bathrooms and info.
- $80,212 for Pawlet and Rupert
- West Pawlet and Rupert are alleviating existing parking issues near the D&H Rail Trail by designating new parking areas and improving existing parking lots.
- $75,000 for Killington
- Building a 3.4-mile single track cross-country mountain bike trail, which extends in the direction of the Velomont trail and is within the town’s existing trail network.
- $62,500 for Cabot
- Building connections between the village of Cabot, the town’s four-season trail network, the Cross Vermont Trail and the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. Enhance access and way-finding.
- $62,000 for Marlboro
- Vermont Museum of Natural History for designing and building a trail network and community outdoor recreation & education center by expanded parking, kiosks and trail signage, and outdoor gear rentals. The center will be a space for the museum and other local organizations to offer nature- based programming.