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To The Editor:
This letter is addressed to the Mad River Path Association:
Congratulations on 20 years! Due to scheduling conflicts, I am unable to attend tonight's meeting or this weekend's celebration.
However, I did want to send along my sincere thanks to the volunteer's who build, maintain and administer the path network; your work is vital to our Valley.
It is my understanding that completing the path from Moretown to Warren has become an important planning goal of the MRV Planning District and other local planners. That is great news! Combined with recent and ongoing efforts establishing a Mad River Byway, there is more momentum towards developing a comprehensive corridor management plan, including a non-motorized path network, than ever before.
I cannot think of any single project that would have a more positive and lasting effect on our area than a Valley-long path. That said, here are my thoughts regarding what needs to happen to connect the dots and have a path that lasts forever:
Permanent easements need to be secured with real compensation to landowners. Good money, at or above fair market value needs to be part of the equation. Privacy fences and landscaping will be appropriate in many cases. And yes, even requiring a landowner to allow an easement (always with equitable compensation) should be seriously considered as a planning tool.
I do not propose the last part lightly. I am not a fan of heavy-handed government. But this project is like building a road or bridge; it is that important and it must happen. Therefore, local governing bodies will need to get involved. Town Plans and Zoning should be reviewed and amended with this in mind. It will take a majority of local voters and strong political will to accomplish and it will be worth it!
Residents and visitors alike will forever benefit from this great "public works" project.
With best wishes for another 20 years (make that 120 years!), I am sincerely yours,
Robbins is a member of the Moretown Planning Commission (2001 to present), former chair of MRPA BOD (1996 to 1998) and member of the Route 100 Transportation Path Advisory Committee to the Waitsfield Select Board (1998 to 2005).