Town lands and Mad River Valley trails – what’s open?

Town-owned lands and trails have either remained open or re-opened recently for public use. A few conditions are necessary to ensure they stay that way:

  1. Be respectful and responsible. Outdoor spaces are essential for our collective physical and psychological well-being in times like these. Let’s not lose access to these valuable assets and opportunities due to a lack of thoughtfulness and kindness.
  2. Maintain appropriate social distancing standards, just like you would everywhere else. Keep at least 6ꞌ between you and other people.
  3. Don’t overcrowd. More people in a space increases the likelihood that social distancing standards can’t be met. If a parking lot is full, please find another place (see the list below for options) or come back another time.
  4. Respect private property at all times. The Town’s trail and recreational network may be built on public spaces, but it also relies heavily on privately-owned components as well. Treat all spaces – public or private – as if they were your own.
  5. If lands and trails are wet and muddy, please stay off. Look to use the dirt roads and paved sidewalks.

Where can you go?

For now, the following spots are open:

  • Scrag Mountain Town Forest. There is parking available at the trailhead on Bowen Road. Please be mindful of conditions, and avoid using any sections of the trail that are wet. Upper sections are likely to be closed until conditions dry out – if so, signage will be placed on-site and notice provided to the community.
  • The Austin parcel trail. Again, avoid sections that are wet.
  • Access to the river can be found on the Tardy parcel, Austin parcel, and at Lareau swimhole.
  • Flemer Field, also known as the polo field, is another option. Plenty of parking is available at the Town offices.
  • The trails at Wu Ledges. This popular trail system has seen an increase in use in recent weeks. The Conservation Commission and Town remind users that the parking area on Hastings Meadow Road is limited to three vehicles. The loop used to access the parking area is privately-owned and maintained; please do not park elsewhere along the loop. Additional parking is available in Waitsfield Village (the Town owns a lot adjacent to the intersection of Route 100 and Bridge Street, for example); walking or biking up Bridge Street to Pine Hill Lane, and then up Pine Hill Lane to the trailhead there is a great way to access the Wu Ledges trails.
  • The Mad River Path. For a complete listing of options, please visit:

The Mad River Valley Recreation District has compiled a listing showing what’s open, what’s not, and what guidelines folks should follow to use lands, trails, and rural roads safely, respectfully, and responsibly. To view the listing, please follow this link.

The Mad River Riders have opened most of the trail network. For updates, trail conditions, and recommended guidelines, please follow this link.

The Long Trail and its side trails are closed for mud season, but scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend (weather and mud allowing). For more information, visit the Green Mountain Club.

If you do walk, run, and bike along one of the many dirt roads in Town, please follow a few basic safety and etiquette guidelines: walk facing traffic (to ensure you can see motorists and they can better see you), maintain appropriate social distancing, and be safe (if you wear earbuds, for example, please make sure you are still aware of what’s happening around you).

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information and Contacts

A variety of resources are available for residents and guests.

For local resources, please consider visiting the website of the Mad River Valley Volunteer Response Team; click here to visit their website, or click here to visit their Facebook page.

For more information on COVID-19 in Vermont, please visit the Vermont Department of Health’s website by clicking here. The website is updated regularly.

The Mad River Community Fund and other organizations may have additional information for those with questions or in need of assistance. Visit the Community Fund’s website through the following link.

Vermont 211 is another resource for those in need of assistance. More information is available through the following link.

Joslin Memorial Library has been closed, effective March 16th. Curbside pickup is available. For more information, please use the following link.

Harwood Unified Union School District has also closed. For more information, please use the following link.

For small business and other resources, please visit the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce website using the following link.

For the latest information on public transit, please visit Green Mountain Transit’s website by using the following link.

COVID-19 fact sheet prepared by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

CDC Flyer, “Stop the Spread of Germs.”

FY21 Budget and FY21-FY25 CIP, as approved at Town Meeting.

The FY21 Budget and FY21-FY25 Capital Improvement Program (CIP), as approved by voters at Town Meeting, can be found by clicking here.

At Town Meeting, voters approved an amended budget of $2,083,385, an increase of $112,327 from the budget approved for FY20. The amended budget includes all actions taken by voters, including the approval of $15,000 appropriations (each) for the Mad River Valley Recreation District and the Mad River Valley Ambulance Service (MRVAS).

The amended and approved budget requires an estimated property tax rate increase of 2.11 cents per $100 of assessed value. For property owners with homes assessed between $200,000 and $400,000, the annual increase will be between $42 and $85 for the year.

The changes made by voters include:

  • +$15,000 for the Mad River Valley Recreation District, bringing the total appropriation to $30,000 in FY21. This is shown on line 189 of the FY21 budget.
  • +$15,000 for MRVAS. This is shown on line 193 of the FY21 budget.
  • +$1,500 for an increase in the Restroom/Recreation/Conservation reserve, bringing the total appropriation to $10,000 in FY21. This is shown on line 249 of the FY21 budget.

Town Meeting 2020 – Results

Local, school, and presidential primary results are available from Town Meeting Day.

For local and school district election results, click here.

For presidential primary election results, click here.

For the results of all other uncontested races, click here.

Article 9, which would have changed the charter of the Town of Waitsfield to enable implementation of local option taxes following a later vote, did not pass. The final tally was 472 (56%) against, and 347 (44%) in favor.

The proposed Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) budget did not pass. The final tally was 3,048 (57%) against, and 2,254 (43%) in favor.

FY20 Property Taxes – Rates and Due Dates

The residential and non-residential rates for FY20 (July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020) have been set.

For residential properties:

Municipal rate = $0.4308 per $100 of assessed value.

Local agreement rate (municipal) = $0.0035 per $100 of assessed value.

Residential (Homestead) education rate = $1.6548 per $100 of assessed value.

Total FY20 residential property tax rate = $2.0891 per $100 of assessed value.

For non-residential properties:

Municipal rate = $0.4308 per $100 of assessed value.

Local agreement rate (municipal) = $0.0035 per $100 of assessed value.

Non-residential education rate = $1.6217 per $100 of assessed value.

Total FY20 non-residential property tax rate = $2.0560 per $100 of assessed value. 

Taxes are paid in quarterly installments, and due on the following dates:

September 15, 2019 (Monday)

November 15, 2019 (Friday)

February 17, 2020 (Monday)

May 15, 2020 (Friday)

Volunteer Opportunities – Board, Committee, and Commission Vacancies

Interested in participating in local government?

The Town of Waitsfield has the following openings on its boards, committees, and commissions:

  • Cemetery Commission — one seat; remaining two years of an unexpired five-year term (expiring March 2021).
  • Planning Commission – one seat; remainder of a four-year term (expiring March 2021).
  • Water Commission – one seat; two-year term (expiring March 2021).

To apply, send an email or letter of interest to Town Administrator Trevor Lashua at [email protected], or by mailing one to:

Town of Waitsfield

Attn: Town Administrator

4144 Main Street

Waitsfield, VT 05673

FY20 Budget and FY20-FY24 Capital Improvement Program – as approved.

The FY20 budget and FY20-FY24 capital improvement program (CIP) and budget were approved by voters at Town Meeting on March 5th. 

The FY20 Budget as approved is $1,971,058, an increase of 4.6% (+$87,372) from the budget for FY19. The projected impact on the municipal portion of the property tax rate is an increase of 2.13 cents per $100 (+5.1%) of assessed value; the increase for owners of homes assessed between $200,000 and $400,000 is estimated to be between $43 and $85 for the year.

Voters added $35,000 to the budget from the floor: $10,000 to restore the transfer to the Restroom/Recreation/Conservation reserve and $25,000 to the paving reserve. A copy of the FY20 budget, FY20-FY24 CIP, and debt service table are below. 

FY20 Budget, Debt Schedule, FY20-24 CIP, and FY20 Capital Reserves – as approved at Town Meeting 2019 (03-05-19)