Town obtains funding for new trail

Hill Trail will link to existing network

By Greg Duggan
Observer staff

Courtesy image The map above shows the proposed path of the Hill Trail. The town recently received nearly $20,000 from the state for the construction of the trail.

Nearly $20,000 from the state will help Williston extend a hiking trail system from Vermont 2A to Mud Pond Country Park off South Road.

Last week, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation announced that Williston would receive $19,725 for the construction of the Hill Trail. Town Planner Jessica Andreoletti said the money will help fund a trailhead and parking area on Vermont 2A, slightly north of Butternut Road, as well as the construction of the actual trail.

An engineering study will determine a design for a bridge to cross Sucker Brook, Andreoletti explained. Then the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps will build the trail next year, and the town will apply for another grant for the actual construction of the bridge. Andreoletti hopes the bridge and trailhead will be complete by the fall of 2011, though she said sometime in 2012 is more likely.

Once finished, the Hill Trail will connect to a trail on the Boomhower property, which links to Five Tree Hill Country Park and eventually to Mud Pond Conservation Area. The entire network makes up a primitive trail system that Andreoletti said the town laid out about five years ago.

Williston is one of 19 recipients to receive grant money through Vermont’s Recreation Trails Program. More than $531,000 was awarded through the grant program this year.

Sherrie Winnie, Recreation Trails Program administrator, did not return phone calls prior to press deadline. A press release from Winnie announcing the grants said, “Vermont’s (Recreation Trails Program) is a matching grant program of the Federal Highway Administration for the acquisition, development, rehabilitation and maintenance of trails, trailhead facilities, trailside amenities, and trail-related educational projects for non-motorized, motorized, and multiple compatible recreational use.”

Andreoletti and Dan Boomhower, who owns the land adjacent to the Hill property, said the Hill Trail will pass through geologically and historically interesting terrain. The nearly 20 acres of rocky, hilly land contain big ledges and Sucker Brook.

“It’s very complicated terrain,” Andreoletti said.

Boomhower said the Hill property had been in his family since 1911, yet he said the modern history of the property extends back to the late 1700s, when the Downer family purchased the land from Ira Allen. Stone walls from the 1790s, which Boomhower said are 4 feet tall, remain on the land. The land previously held several buildings, including a home and a sawmill that benefitted from a waterfall on Sucker Brook.

After purchasing the land from his uncle, Robert Hill, Boomhower sold a portion to the town of Williston in 2004; the Vermont Land Trust obtained development rights over the parcel.

“It was a great deal, and the town was incredibly helpful,” Boomhower said.

Now, with the grant from the state, Williston is one step closer to completing its vision for the property.