Editorial: Multi-use path in Midd would be a win-win
Several area organizations lent their support at last Monday’s Middlebury selectboard meeting to a proposal to build a multi-use gravel pathway from the Middlebury Union Middle School to East Middlebury. The pathway would depart the existing Trail Around Middlebury just south of the high school lacrosse field on Creek Road heading south on that existing gravel road, eventually cutting across to the east side of Route 7 and continuing to Route 125 and East Middlebury sidewalks.
Because it is relatively flat, and the path would be 4-feet wide or so, it would be ideal for family bike outings with smaller children, or walkers out for a stroll along the scenic stretch that runs along the Otter Creek.
Providing a safe pathway for families is one reason for the trail, but it would also provide better commuter access between the two villages via bicycle — at least for five months of the year — and would provide a better route for mountain bikers leaving from Middlebury to access the challenging Moosalamoo Trails at the Oak Ridge Trail Head, just a mile up the road from the Waybury Inn. With mountain biking surging in popularity, along with fat biking in the winter, it’s not far-fetched for Middlebury to consider itself a biking center (it already has terrific road biking) — a win-win for local residents and businesses alike.
The groups appealed to the selectboard to get approval for a grant, which was unanimously approved. Whether the groups earn the grant, which will be very competitive, or not, it’s a proposal that should move forward with opportunities to apply for this grant and others in the future. Furthermore, this is a project whose costs are manageable and the benefits substantial.
These are precisely the types of amenities that attract families and visitors alike. It won’t quite rival Stowe’s bike path or the Burlington Bike Path along Lake Champlain, but it could serve much the same purpose, and with town encouragement it could be a transformative community asset.