Town Forest Trail improvements were completed this week, marking the end of a project that began in 2015. Upgrades to the trail have made it the first Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant pathway in Milton.
“A lot of people are really excited,” said Victor Sinadinoski, director of planning and economic development.
Milton Conservation Commission chair Dan Gaherty said he’s pleased the project has alleviated the “mud fest” that used to occur along the path.
Work by contractor Timber & Stone LLC began in mid-July with most tasks completed by Labor Day. Improvements included widening the pathway to 8 feet with a 10-foot clearance height, leveling the path, adding a compact stone surface, installing culverts to prevent pooling, building ADA-compliant handrails, creating an accessible parking space and constructing a turning pad for wheelchairs before the bridge, according to Sinadinoski.
The conservation commission offered volunteer labor this summer, conducting an initial trail clearing and then reseeding the path after Timber and Stone’s efforts.
This Wednesday, the commission planned to add improvements like a bike rack and a removable bollard, a short vertical post in the middle of the trail entrance to discourage motorized vehicle use.
The Town Forest Trail project was funded with a near-$50,000 Vermont Recreational Trails Program grant and a $16,815 match from the town, the grant agreement shows.
Milton began its trail revamp efforts in 2015 but had to cease work when it discovered the path was part of wetland area, Sinadinoski said.
“The wetlands situation really threw a wrench into our project,” he said. “That took much longer than expected.”
After a two-year and $18,000 effort to obtain wetland permits, the town was left just under $47,450 for the project. Timber & Stone’s bid came in around $46,000. But, the wetlands surprise left Milton unable to complete all of the renovations it had planned to put award monies towards.
“We wanted to fix the bridge,” Sinadinoski said. “But that’s a future project.”
Gaherty said if the town receives additional trail funds, the conservation commission would like to continue improving ADA accessibility to the pond and add a wildlife viewing platform.
“That’s our ‘Phase II’ dream,” he said.
According to Sinadinoski, the town is on schedule with its Milton Municipal Forest and Bove Property management plan. He hopes to see increased permitted uses on the trail in addition to its current low-impact uses, but the conservation commission decided to hold off on this for fear of the trails eroding.
“Right now we’re kind of in a holding pattern,” Gaherty said. “We’ll evaluate that when and if we can get additional servicing done.”
Currently, the Town Forest Trail offers hiking, running, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fishing and hunting.
“Having been a user up there and knowing how it was just real bad [with mud], this is going to be wonderful for all users now,” Gaherty said.