Wind: 0 mph
Dogs: Many of you have seen the neon green signs placed in several spots along the east side of the Greenway. The Greenway, between Tremblay and Meadow Road in Waitsfield, is the most beloved and used section of the Mad River Path. One person told me that she felt "assaulted by the signs." I explained that I had put those signs up in response to a recent incident that involved a few adults and their dogs playing Frisbee on the one of Neill's farm fields.
This incident prompted a conversation with Elwin and Forrest Neill,
father and son who farm and own the fields and the land the path is on
which spans both sides of the river. The Mad River Path Association
(MRPA) board of directors realized we needed to find new ways to inform
and educate path users to respect the Neill's mandate that dogs be
leashed on both the east and west side of the greenway.
Just as the Path Association relies on its members to fund it, we are always mindful that the existence of the path relies on the generosity of landowners like the Neills who are sharing their land with the public. (An interview with Elwin Neill can be found on the MRPA website, www.madriverpath.com. Just click on the section that says Maps.) Elwin offers a clear explanation of the amiable and generous agreement that was made between the Neills and MRPA in the early 1990s.
The MRPA manages and maintains the greenway, but the Neills continue to own the land the path is on except for one stretch on the west side of the river where MRPA has a legal easement. We all love to see dogs on the greenway, and as Elwin says most dogs are well behaved.
However, there have been too many incidents where dogs have deposited large rocks in the farm fields, which cause problems for the farm equipment; run in the fields, which may have a cover crop of alfalfa or be a corn field; or frightened other walkers, joggers or dogs. Hopefully we can take the neon green signs down soon. It is a myth that dogs may be unleashed on the west side of the greenway. Please ensure the future of the greenway by keeping your dog on a leash, cleaning up after your dog (doggie deposit bags are available at both ends of the greenway), and reminding others to put their dog on a leash.
Dots: Many of you honked at the posse of MRPA board members and two members of the Mad River Planning District last Thursday evening as we walked the existing and proposed sections of the Mad River Path which will connect the "dots" between the greenway and Lareau swimming hole. It is the goal of the MRPA to connect these dots within the next two years. This is our focus right now, and at the same time we are working with other landowners as opportunities arise to develop other sections of the path. While we were on this walkabout we met Dave Estes, who exclaimed, "If I couldn't walk, run and bike on the Mad River Path I would actually be the 77-year-old geezer that I am!"
Discoveries: New trailhead signs have been popping up all over, thanks to the leadership of board member Mike Ware. Below each trailhead sign is a box with trail-specific maps inside. Help yourself! Many folks are unaware of all the various sections of the path. For example, have you ever walked the section of the Village Path beginning behind the complex where High Country Hair Salon is? If you take this walk, which ends up behind the laundromat, right now you will discover a glorious patch of red poppies! Who knew?
Every day, Betsy Jondro, chair of the membership committee, eagerly checks the MRPA mailbox for the discovery of new MRPA memberships. We are thrilled to report, we now have 200 members. We're halfway towards our goal of 400 members. As Meg Allison of Moretown says, "MRPA membership is the best value in The Valley!" You can join on our website using PayPal or put a check in the mail to us: P.O. Box 683, Waitsfield.
There are many membership requests on people's desks right now so please take a moment to join the Path for 2009.
Dogs, dots and discoveries: The MRPA Board thanks everyone for helping us nurture and grow the Mad River Path. If you want to learn more about the MRPA check out our website, www.madriverpath.com, or attend a board meeting the third Tuesday of every month, 6 p.m. at the Wait House.
Brines is president of the MRPA board.