By Katy Savage
Woodstock is reviving a 18-year-old plan to make a three-mile recreational trail along the Ottauquechee River.
The scenic Woodstock trail, called the “River Walk,” would be similar to a trail in Stowe – “a magnet for tourism,” said Economic Development Commission Executive Director Sally Miller.
“We’re trying to get ourselves known as an outdoor recreation community,” Miller said.
Woodstock received a $21,000 municipal planning grant from the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development to start scoping plans and determine how much construction would cost.
The plans for the “River Walk,” which would be open to cyclists and pedestrians, are part of a redevelopment plan for the East End of Woodstock, which has been nicknamed “The Jungle” for its decaying buildings and contaminated soil.
Original plans for the trail were created in 2000. It would have cost about $300,000 to build the trail at the time but the project stalled when it lost support from the Woodstock Inn and Resort, which owns a majority of the property designated for the trail.
Now the inn is under new leadership and Town Planner Michael Brands said the inn is eager to boost tourism.
Brands said the River Walk fits in with goals of the Town Plan to expand recreation and walking trails.
Woodstock was one of 29 towns that received municipal planning grants from Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development.
The grants, totaling $464,920, support a range of projects, including new housing facilities and ensuring adequate public infrastructure. Since 1998, the program has provided over $12 million to 234 cities and towns.
Other towns in Windsor and Rutland counties receiving funding include:
Bethel, which received $8,161 to update its town plan to address the recent downtown revitalization efforts, flood resilience and the town’s public facilities.
Wallingford, which received $22,000 to improve a prominent building and streetscape at the heart of the village by developing a renovation design plan a the Four Corners.
Proctor, which received $7,000 to update its town plan.
Ludlow, which received $9,600 for wayfinding and to develop an inventory of existing parking spaces and identify future improvements for parking. “Ludlow, especially in the winter, gets huge surge of business,” Town Manager Scott Murphy said. “When we have that surge, there’s a huge demand for parking. When visitors are here they have difficulty finding places they want to go,” Murphy added.
Over the past 30 years, the municipal planning grants have helped communities tackle a range of issues at the local level. There was $960,000 in funding requested from 67 municipalities this year.
“Municipal planning grants provide resources to get good ideas off the ground,” said Department of Housing and Community Development Commissioner Katie Buckley said in a press release.