Wilmington Fund organization dissolves, donates to trail

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WILMINGTON — The Wilmington Fund, a nonprofit that was created in response to Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011, is dissolving and donating its remaining funds to the town for upgrading the Valley Trail system.

"It's exciting," Town Manager Scott Tucker said. "It will be a big boon economically to the area, because my understanding is hiking and biking on trails continues to be a big economic driver throughout most towns in Vermont."

Rep. John Gannon, D-Windham-6, said the organization can dissolve once its funds are distributed. He also is a member of the Wilmington Fund board and the Wilmington Select Board.

On Tuesday, the Select Board voted to accept about $176,317 from the Wilmington Fund with the stipulation that it be used to enhance, upgrade and build the Valley Trail system. Tucker said funds raised by the group after the completion of flood recovery efforts were intended to go toward the trail, which spans about 5.6 miles between Wilmington and Dover with "family friendly" biking and hiking.

The Wilmington Fund's "work and mission is complete," said Gretchen Havreluk, the town's economic development consultant.

Tucker and Havreluk have been looking to figure out who will make the trail improvements.

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"We thought it was going to be Peak Resorts but now we're not sure," Tucker said, referring to the company that owns Mount Snow ski resort in Dover but is expected to be purchased by Vail Resorts in the fall. "But we did identify someone for the planning and design within the Peak Resorts group and we hope that's still possible."

Last year, town staff went on a hike on the trail with Peak Resorts employees and Windham Regional Planning Commission staff. They looked at areas that will need to be addressed in the state permitting process such as wetlands and natural resources.

The next step is coming up with a formal plan for the improvements.

"We think we have a good idea on what the design's going to be," Tucker said. "We just need someone to put it all on paper for us now."

He did not have a cost estimate for the project but hopes to have a design completed by fall and requirements of a state permit met by winter. The hope is to go to construction next spring.

The Wilmington Fund was created by Dan Kilmurray, a second homeowner who felt compelled to assist in the town's recovery.

"Dan has been extremely generous with his time and money in helping Wilmington get back on its feet after Tropical Storm Irene," said Gannon.


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