Public Input Sought on Manchester Recreation Path
The firm conducting the feasibility study for the Manchester Recreation Path will be seeking local input when it presents various alternatives for the proposed town project at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, August 27, at the Manchester Rec Park headquarters. The scoping study, commissioned by the Town of Manchester, is the first step needed before applying Federal and State grants to fund the project. The Town of Manchester retained the Burlington-based company, VBH, to conduct the study to help determine if the town should acquire the right-of-way in order to extend Manchester’s public recreation opportunities. The topics expected to be reviewed include safety, trail surface, scenic elements, minimizing impact, brook and ravine crossings, drainage, construction phase-in, and possible trail spurs for future buildout.
The 1.7-mile section of the old Manchester-Dorset-Granville railroad pathway is now open to the public. Its northern entry point is off North Road and leads to Riley Rink, and is currently maintained by private ownership for foot travel; it is not yet suitable for most bike travel. The historic rail property connects walkers, cyclists, runners and cross-
country skiers to the facilities at Riley Rink, the Manchester Rec Center and the town’s middle-elementary school off Main Street. The total round trip of these inter-connected trails is six miles, double the current public access to multi-use trails in Manchester Center. The new rec path would provide a safer alternative to sections Routes 7A and 30 for cycling and
running. Parking is available off North Road and at the other facilities along the route. The scenic pathway follows the old railroad bed through varied forested and cleared landscapes and is of historic significance to the region; remnants of the railroad’s history lie scattered along the route, and historic markers are already in place describing the brief but important marble industry that represents the history of Manchester and Dorset.
Towns and cities across New England have jumped on the public trails bandwagon of providing in-town trail access for residential and tourism uses year-round.
BikeManchesterVT, formed in 2013 as a result of the town’s 2020 long-range planning process, has endorsed the project as an important asset for residents and visitors alike. For details, visit bikemanchestervt.com.