On Monday, Gov. Phil Scott held a press conference at the Danville train station. The news had nothing to do with the revival of trains in Vermont. Danville’s train station has a new future as a hub for exploring the newly completed sections of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail as well as a myriad of other outdoor activities in the area.
The reason for the Governor’s presence was to announce that Danville’s proposal was one of 24 projects that were selected as winners of the 2022 Vermont Economic Collaborative Community Grants Program. All told, the grants will award close to $5 million to outdoor recreation projects around Vermont, the largest investment in outdoor recreation projects the state has made to date.
New skateparks, whitewater parks and bike parks are being funded, as well as trails, signage and even scholarships aimed at providing access to BIPOC and underserved communities.
“Vermont’s natural beauty, combined with outdoor recreation opportunities, are economic engines for our state and a driving force for why people visit and live in Vermont,” said Governor Scott. “These grants will help continue to connect trails to downtown centers, develop new recreation assets and promote all we have to offer.”
The grant recipients, announced at an event in Danville today, joined the nine other communities who have received funding through the program since it was established by Act 194 in 2018, projects Vermont Sports covered in The New Basecamps
A historic investment from the Governor in 2021 grew the grant program from a granting capacity of $100,000 – $200,000 to a total of $5 million. This investment has allowed the program to nearly triple the number of communities who are benefiting from the program and spurred some notable changes to grant program requirements. Changes included expanding eligibility from only municipal entities to include non-profit organizations and setting a $50,000 minimum with no maximum potential award.
Twenty-one of the grants will go to place-based community efforts (listed below) but three have been earmarked for organizations that are operating statewide.
This year’s grant recipients will be completing work in eleven of Vermont’s fourteen counties and some projects will have statewide benefits, like the completion of a master plan for the Velomont Trail and work to pilot a Vermont River Access Collaborative that will allow for better stewardship of Vermont’s treasured water resources. Recipients will also complete work that connects to, and further develops, statewide outdoor recreation assets like work in the town of St. Johnsbury and the Town of Danville to develop better wayfinding, programming, and resources to connect pedestrians and bikers on the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail to their community’s other outdoor recreation resources and businesses.
Recipients like the Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance will be using funding to support workforce and outdoor recreation business development by developing technical assistance and training programs.
[See related: How the VOREC VOBA Grant Will Help Businesses Grow]
Additionally, funding will be used to create new opportunities for gear lending like the program the City of Burlington is piloting for no-cost gear and tool rentals, and Ascutney Outdoors’ free equipment rentals for their children’s ski program. These opportunities will provide access to Vermont’s world class recreation resources for Vermonters regardless of income, and to Vermonters who are interested in exploring a new outdoor recreation activity.
“The substantial funds provided for this round encouraged communities to think big to leverage outdoor recreation and the many benefits that stem from it, from economic impacts to environmental stewardship to public health,” said VOREC Chair and Vermont Forest, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael Snyder. “This is an exciting time for Vermont: not only do we realize in new ways the importance of outdoor recreation, but we’re also seizing meaningful opportunities to make outdoor recreation even stronger and more accessible. We’re thrilled to be able to support so many projects across the state, and grateful for all of our partners in this work.”
|GRANT DOLLARS||PLACE||GRANT DESCRIPTION|
|141,488||VERMONT HUTS ASSOCIATION – Town of Randolph||Collaborating to complete a master planning process for the Velomont Trail. Developing trail wayfinding and signage.|
|150,000||VERMONT OUTDOOR BUSINESS ALLIANCE – (Towns of St. Johnsbury, Lyndon, Montpelier, Randolph, Poultney, Killington, and Castleton)||Providing technical assistance to outdoor recreation businesses in Washington, Caledonia, and Rutland Counties. Partnering with outdoor recreation organizations, trail builders, and education institutions to develop professional training programs based on needs identified by partner businesses in target communities. Professionals who graduate from these programs would be prime candidates for hire by partner businesses.|
|293,478||VERMONT RIVER CONSERVANCY and WHITE RIVER PARTNERSHIP||The Vermont River Conservancy and White River Partnership are collaborating to improve white water access infrastructure at multiple sites, coordinate site stewardship efforts, and pilot the Vermont River Access Collaborative. This network will allow for improved resource and information sharing with the goal of increasing access to flowing water for all.|
|159,978||ADDISON – Vergennes||Building an accessible 2,330-foot-long connector trail with wetland boardwalk. The multi-modal trail will start at the high school and be a pedestrian-friendly way for community members to frequent local businesses.|
|375,000||BENNINGTON – Pownal||Creating better community access to a 700+ acre recreation area and trail network by building trailhead parking and an informational kiosk, constructing a pedestrian bridge, installing trail blazes and maps for wayfinding, improving trails, and developing an ongoing trail management plan.|
|128,000||CALEDONIA – St. Johnsbury||Developing signage and wayfinding to enhance opportunities for bikers and pedestrians to use the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT). Starting a bike lending library and free / low-cost bike, snowshoe, and exercise programming. Improvements will be promoted by the Chamber through a four-season marketing campaign.|
|97,650||CALEDONIA – Danville||Creating a transportation and recreation hub in the former Train Station. The hub will offer amenities, including ADA bathrooms, and information to encourage Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT) users to explore additional outdoor recreation attractions and local businesses within a 10-mile radius.|
|200,000||CALEDONIA – Hardwick||Designing and engineering for new Gateway Park. Reconstructing historic pedestrian bridge connecting community park to downtown center. Supporting Outdoor Recreation Working Group to assist local organizations, develop a marketing plan and building regional partnerships.|
|225,000||CALEDONIA – Groton||Upgrading a town-owned recreational trail that connects to Groton State Forest and the Cross Vermont Trail. Building a parking area and trailhead for it near the Village, with improved signage along the trail. Developing a master plan for a future greenspace and bridge that will directly connect the trail to the Village.|
|300,000||CHITTENDEN – Burlington||Piloting no-cost gear and tool rentals, providing sailing camp scholarships to youth who identify as BIPOC, and building an urban bike park and wetlands walk.|
|99,726||GRAND ISLE – South Hero||Collaborating with partners in South Hero to develop a plan for safe and connected biking and walking routes connected to the increase in traffic experienced from the Local Motion Bike Ferry. Implementing a new website portal and interactive map, signage, safety outreach & education, and organizing events.|
|197,900||LAMOILLE – Wolcott||Building a multi-use trail network in the Town of Wolcott’s new Town Forest, including installing trail signage, a network map, and trailhead infrastructure. Trail network will provide a safe route between the Elementary school, recreation field and the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT).|
|200,000||ORLEANS – Craftsbury||Building a public-facing community wellness center and outdoor recreation hub to serve as a wayfinding point at the confluence of three trail systems in Craftsbury Village. Developing wayfinding and signage for the trails system, renovating an existing building to provide space for the center which includes space for exercise including a climbing gym, recreation programming and workshops, and equipment rentals.|
|173,000||ORLEANS – Derby||The Derby Fish & Game Club is fixing a dam that holds up a beloved fishing pond. The pond is a popular place for children to learn how to fish and for seniors with accessibility issues to enjoy fishing. Improving the accessibility of both the parking area and cement platform for fishing around the dam.|
|75,000||RUTLAND – Killington||Building a 3.4-mile single track cross-country mountain bike trail, which extends in the direction of the Velomont trail and is within the town’s existing trail network.|
|80,212||RUTLAND – Pawlet||West Pawlet and the Town of Rupert are alleviating existing parking issues near the D&H Rail Trail by designating new parking areas and improving existing parking lots.|
|213,000||WASHINGTON – Montpelier||Strengthening downtown connection to existing outdoor recreation assets through the construction of two connector trails and design of an urban Whitewater Park. The Montpelier Youth Conservation Corps will employ young people of all backgrounds to build the connector trails. Creating promotional videos and an adventure guide that will highlight the City’s connection to the outdoors.|
|62,500||WASHINGTON – Cabot||Building connections between the Village of Cabot, the Town’s four-season trail network, the Cross Vermont Trail and the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT). Making infrastructure improvements to enhance access and wayfinding, purchasing equipment to support ongoing maintenance, and building capacity for Trails Committee to be a sustainable and effective organization.|
|408,019||WASHINGTON – Mad River||Developing a recreation hub including a welcome center with parking and restrooms. The hub will act as a jump off point for the surrounding trails, including Mad River Riders’ 60+ mile trail network which connects to Camel’s Hump State Forest. The project will also build a new pedestrian bridge across VT 100 to link the hub to Waitsfield’s walkable downtown.|
|122,965||WASHINGTON – Northfield||Improving Town Forest by restoring a trail that was damaged during Hurricane Irene, removing invasive species, developing and implementing a wayfinding masterplan that will connect the trail to town, installing trailhead kiosks with maps, designating nearby parking spaces for trail users, and expanding outdoor gear lending at the local public library.|
|62,000||WINDHAM – Marlboro||Designing and building a trail network and community outdoor recreation & education center by expanded parking, kiosks and trail signage, and outdoor gear rentals. The center will be a space for the museum and other local organizations to offer nature- based programming.|
|331,809||WINDSOR – Bethel||Planning and building an interconnected network of parks, greenways, and multi-use trails. Upgrading trails and developing improved mapping / signage to enhance the accessibility of the network, including community outreach to understand signage needs. Developing better local and regional partnerships.|
|262, 088||WINDSOR – Ascutney||Ascutney Outdoors, Ascutney Trails Association, and the town of West Windsor are collaborating to build a trail between the Village and the mountain, construct new mountain bike trails at the ski area, upgrade the rope tow, provide free equipment rentals for the children’s ski program, and strengthen marketing efforts.|
|190,500||WINDSOR – Ludlow||Redeveloping the Dorsey Park Skatepark, which will enable the town to host camps and Okemo Mountain School to do off-season training.|