Saturday March 16, 2013

LONDONDERRY -- The Scenic Route 100 Byway expansion is one more step from approval before its designation is made official.

On March 13, the byway expansion plan was unveiled at a public forum at the Londonderry Town Offices. The Vermont Byway Council was in attendance.

People from all stops on the proposed byway came to weigh in. Everyone who spoke was in full support of it. Those who had organized the expansion plan had spoke to the Selectboards along the Route 100 corridor to get towns onboard for the project that took under a year to come to this point.

"As you can see, it’s not just one entity or the same entity from one town," said Windham Regional Commission Transportation Senior Planner Matt Mann. "It’s a lot of different entities coming together to represent the byway from the different towns."

The plan will still need to be approved by the state. VTrans will meet with the committee that arranged the expansion plan on April 2 at 6:30 p.m. in Plymouth at the Calvin Coolidge Historic Site. Anyone can go to this meeting to give further testimony.

Towns that would make up the proposed scenic byway include Granville, Hancock, Rochester, Stockbridge, Pittsfield, Killington, Bridgewater, Plymouth, Ludlow, Cavendish, Andover, Weston, Londonderry, Jamaica, Wardsboro, Stratton, Dover, Wilmington, Whitingham and Stamford.

The benefits of the scenic byway becoming official were numerous.


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"It’s really a celebration of what’s here," said Mann. "To utilize it and give it light for visitors to enjoy it."

It was said that both Vermont residents as well as tourists would reap the benefits.

"From the economic tourism objective," said Mann. "We’re creating something that would last."

The proposed byway plan would have its own branding. Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission Senior Planner Rita Seto showed off the new signs that would be displayed all over Route 100.

The byway would increase awareness of heritage, recreation and cultural resources.

Kiosks could be built in all the included towns in the future to explain each town’s personality and individual history, which would add to the appeal of traveling the byway.

The byway expansion would also promote economic development and preserving and enhancing intrinsic resources, Mann pointed out.

VTrans Program Manager for State Byways John LaBarge led the charge in helping to make the byway become official. He urged the attendees to continue working on the byway.

LaBarge said he’d be on the committee for another year, but organizers should consider the future.

"You’re going to need some lobbying," he said.

LaBarge was proud of the committee’s achievements and its "grassroots efforts."

Windham County was well-represented at the meeting. The presentation showed off landmarks up and down Route 100.

Lake Whitingham was mentioned specifically and grouped into lakes that "lend themselves to extenuating the beauty of this overall corridor," said Mann.

A picture of Lake Whitingham’s Glory Hole, which is located in the Harriman Reservoir, was displayed on the presentation.

Dover Town Hall, the Molly Start Statue, the Old Stratton Meeting House and the Londonderry Depot were all shown as well.

Dover Economic Development Specialist Assistant Linda Anelli was part of a committee responsible for talking with Selectboards. She had been particularly helpful in getting the Southern Vermont towns to agree to being a part of the expansion plan.

Anelli had mentioned that she had talked with some restaurant owners who had held off on advertising until the byway was approved and include the designation in a brochure.

She also said that the New York Times had recently published an article about the Route 100 byway and its beauty.

Jamaica Selectboard Vice Chairman Lou Bruso commented about how opening the byway up to the mountainous area seemed like a great idea.

Dover Selectboard Chairman Randy Terk told the attendees that as an avid motorcyclist, he has specifically sought out scenic byways across the country.

"As people pick up the brochure, it will get them to travel through our towns," Terk said. "They will stay and spend their money in the local businesses. Then once they’ve come and seen the areas, the other opportunity is that they’ll come back. Since they’re been led to it, I think that will entice them to return."

For more information on the Scenic Route 100 Byway, visit scenicroute100byway.com.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.