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Autumn Foushee, executive director of the Mad River Path Association, the MRPA board, and representatives of the town of Waitsfield continue to work to resolve several issues regarding the Greenway section of the Mad River Path.
The Greenway is a significant portion of the MRPA’s path network. It is located in Waitsfield on the Neill and the Spaulding farms. Last month the Neill family, after over 20 years of partnership with the town and the MRPA, revoked their license agreement citing a number of reasons: taxes, dog behavior issues and community appreciation of the path’s existence.
On behalf of the MRPA board of directors, we all sincerely hope that a new license agreement will be approved and the Greenway will remain open. The MRPA board acknowledges the tremendous generosity that the Neill family, and all landowners over whose property the path runs, have shown the community. We believe that we speak for the community when we say that we have never taken this generosity for granted and we have always been responsible and respectful stewards.
Here are the issues the MRPA is working on:
1. Tax stabilization: The MRPA and the Waitsfield Select Board are pursuing an open space agreement in Waitsfield. This open space agreement would reduce a landowner’s municipal taxes by 50 percent if the landowner agrees to maintain their undeveloped open space land while providing public access for recreation. The impact to the town budget would be very small, and it would provide a way for taxpayers to show their appreciation for the landowner’s generosity.
2. Dogs: The MRPA will work with the town to amend the dog ordinance to require that dog owners pick up after their dogs. This is common policy in other towns. (The MRPA will also be installing 10 new dog waste stations on sections of the path this spring.)
4. Join the MRPA: By becoming a member you support our mission to build, maintain, support and conserve a system of continuous public pathways from Warren to Moretown to foster a healthy community by connecting the people, schools, businesses and special places of the Mad River Valley.
The Greenway is a community treasure that depends on the generosity of private landowners and stewardship of all us.
Laura Brines is MRPA board president.