South Hero Trails Committee
Meeting of August 12, 2021 at 6:00 PM
SH Town Hall
Committee Members Present: Dave Hobbs (Chair), Chuck Hulse, Guy Maguire, Susan Ryan, Linda Burger
Members of the Public Present: Steve & Kelly Robinson, Alice & Jon Wells, Marion Palmero
Guy agreed to take minutes
Robinson Trail: The group discussed the potential of a public access trail across the Robinson property (Islandacres Farm) that would provide connections between existing trails and town resources, such as the Tracy Woods Trail, the Roy Marsh Trail, Folsom School, and the businesses along South Street, as well as a unique and beautiful walk in its own right. This trail was identified as a top 3 priority in the initial SH Trails Committee Vision Document created in 2018 by the committee. Some of the points discussed:
Steve made clear that the trail would have to close during hunting season (rifle). Guy mentioned that other conserved trails (Landon) are also closed during this time, and other trails are posted with warnings for users, so this would not be unusual.
The trail would be, at the behest of the landowners, a non-motorized, low-impact trail, with specific details to be determined in an MOU or other agreement.
There was some discussion about whether to have two trails to accommodate for seasonal flooding (a main trail and a springtime-only trail reroute) but the group ultimately agreed to only have one trail to avoid confusion.
The group asked Steve and Kelly about whether the trail could go along their southern line, and Steve said there is room inside their property but outside the fence, so users would not be in contact with animals and farm operations, but it would have to be brush-hogged first, and then mowed.
The precise route across Islandacres needs to be determined, so Guy agreed to organize a trail walk with the landowners and committee members to mark the trail with GPS and create a map for the next meeting (Oct) as well as potential locations for signs and other trail infrastructure.
The group discussed how to connect the trail to South Street once it left Islandacres, and agreed upon a route that would potentially go from Islandacres, to the Wells’ property, to the Masonic property to South Street. Alice and Jon Wells shared their enthusiasm about a trail on their property, and offered input as to where it might best be located. Steve offered to contact the Masonic Lodge and see if they might be interested in a trail going across their property.
Dave mentioned reaching out to Matt Little to help draw up a draft trail use agreement with landowners.
Keeler Bay Park
Guy reported back on his ‘to-do’ from the last meeting to look into the idea of putting a parking lot at the trail entrance to improve safety and access. He spoke with Martha Varney about this, as well as Wetland Ecologist Brock Freyer from the State, who both were supportive of the idea, and gave Guy some ideas to work with. Guy brought the notes to a land trust meeting with Chuck Hulse and Emily Alger. The three of them talked about the logistics of a parking lot and also the potential for accessibility features on the trail to make it easier for those with mobility concerns or sight/hearing or other impairments. Chuck mentioned the idea at a recent selectboard meeting as well, as there was not a trails committee meeting scheduled until now.
Chuck echoed the idea that focusing on accessibility could be a good learning process as we look into how to build this trail, which could inform all our work on trails, both current and future.
Susan voiced that accessibility is an important element to consider and that we should incorporate it into all our trails. Certainly there are areas of this particular trail that could be made much more accessible. The berm section of this trail contains a path along the old railroad with views of the lake. This particular area would be difficult to make fully accessible
Dave also was in agreement with Susan that this might not be the best site to add accessibility features.
The group asked Chuck and Guy to do more research into accessibility and talk to folks at the VYCC and others who have experience with building accessible trails.
Guy reported that SHLT is working with the Selectboard and Local Motion to apply for a VOREC (The Vermont Outdoor Recreation Communities) Grant through the VT State Agency of Natural Resources, Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.
The grant would fund an initial phase of a recreation bike/ped safety and infrastructure initiative to help South Hero handle the increasing numbers of cyclists and other outdoor recreation seekers in a way that serves local residents, businesses, and the growing number of visitors seeking recreation opportunities in South Hero.
This would include a comprehensive survey of current issues and resources, opportunities for local input, as well as a vision document and small action projects such as wayfinding, signage, public outreach, and pop-up amenities and facilities.
b. The committee was supportive of the idea.