A Dover trail plan in the making

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DOVER — Between trail development and adding new things like a skatepark or disc golf course, lots of ideas are circulating this community, where a 25-year plan is being created.

"We're trying to look at this overall, and not just on hiking and skiing, but really look at all the potential uses and how we can place the town in the position to benefit from the recreational opportunities that are available," said Steve Neratko, economic development director for the town.

A request for proposals issued in December sought consulting firms to develop a trails and recreation master plan for the next 25 years. The document is to serve as a "roadmap" for future decision making and use of some of the town's 1 percent local option tax revenue, which is earmarked for economic development projects.

Dover "is home to the Mount Snow ski area as well as the Green Mountain National Forest," the RFP says. "The town has completed a number of trails, park and recreational projects in recent years and the community is interested in developing additional amenities within the town for residents and visitors alike."

The town received nine responses from interested firms from all over the northeastern United States, ultimately deciding to go with Weston & Simpson of Waterbury and its partner Morton Trails for $32,100. The contract was signed last week.

John Morton, founder of Morton Trails, is an Olympic bi-athlete who grew up in Walpole, N.H. He has worked on a number of athletic and recreational venues around the world including projects for the Olympics.

Dan Biggs, landscape architect and regional manager for Weston & Sampson, said he plans to have a kick-off meeting in the next couple of weeks. The group will look at existing trails and parks, and seek public input on potential improvements and projects.

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Biggs said his group works on similar projects mostly in the northeast New England area.

"One thing we're looking forward to is extending the extensive trail network the town already has and attracting trail goers to become familiar with what the town has to offer," he said. "I think it's probably a hidden gem."

Biggs expects the process to take eight to 12 months to complete.

"We're looking at some land in town to purchase for some of these recreational uses and some of these projects, depending on community interest, may move forward prior to the plan being complete," Neratko said. "We expect trails and venues to continue to be a priority. We want to set funds aside for those developments."

He noted working groups looking at trails and venues still have room for new members, and they do not need to be Dover residents.

Neratko said there is a new focus on setting up a local chapter aligned with the Vermont Mountain Bike Association or Catamount Trail Association. He's also hopeful snowmobilers will get more involved in the discussions, describing them as "an important part of our trail system."

The United States Department of Agriculture is seeking comments on what is called the Somerset Integrated Resource Project, which includes a proposal for backcountry biking and skiing pitched for Dover. The 30-day comment period ends April 29.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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