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By Kara Herlihy
Safe Routes to School representative Matt Strassberg appeared before the Moretown Select Board January 12 to request their support for a three-mile loop trail in the town forest behind the Moretown Elementary School.
The Safe Routes to School Committee is preparing an application for a grant through the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation for the design and construction of a recreational trail that would allow students a safe way to walk or bike to school.
Strassberg said the Moretown School Board and Planning Commission are both in support of the project, which he said would be "a community asset" and a way for students to bypass the Moretown Mountain Road intersection with Route 100B in Moretown Village enroute to school.
The serpentine trail would also be integrated into the science program at the elementary school and used for general recreational purposes by students and community members alike. Strassberg said the grant requires a 20 percent match and is very competitive.
He added that the Safe Routes to School Committee would be willing to use money from their budget to pay for a designer, and asked for both the support of the select board, by cosigning a letter, and one week of town excavator use.
BOARD MEMBERS HESITANT
Select board members questioned the need for the town's equipment, citing the overall size and scope of the equipment and whether it is appropriate for the project. Strassberg emphasized the need for proper construction and maintenance of the trail, which he estimates could be as wide as six feet, allowing small children easy accessibility.
Select board members were hesitant to support the project without more specific design specifications, including the cutting of trees and the use of town equipment where it might not be necessary or appropriate.
As landowners, the town approved the project concept contingent upon the agreement that the school board, select board and planning commission all be involved in the design and that no construction take place until such time as they can all agree via a written memorandum of understanding.
Select board members also urged Strassberg to consult representatives from the Vermont Land Trust before moving forward.