Bolton Questions GMC Land Donation

10/25/11 7:04AM By Kirk Carapezza

Bolton Valley at sunset. The Green Mountain Club has long wanted to build a foot bridge over the Winooski River to enhance the Long Trail, the oldest long distance hiking trail in America.
(Host) The Green Mountain Club wants to donate private land it recently purchased in Bolton to the state. But town officials question the deal. They say it could cost the town much-needed tax revenue.

At a meeting last week, the Club asked the Bolton Select Board for a letter of support so it could transfer the land to the Forests, Parks and Recreation Department. The land would become part of the Mount Mansfield State Forest.

But Select Board Chair Ron Lafreniere says the board has some reservations.

(Lafreniere) "Taking that piece of property off the tax rolls in town is a fairly substantial figure. It's somewhere around $5,000 in taxes currently paid on that property, and with the state taking over there's only a small percentage of that that would be coming back."

(Host) The Green Mountain Club says the 176-acre piece of land is crucial to improving the Long Trail for hikers.

The Club has had plans for a long time to build a foot bridge over the Winooski River so that hikers won't have to walk to Jonesville and back through Bolton Notch.

Will Wiquist is the executive director of the Green Mountain Club. He says the Long Trail could be an important asset for Bolton.

(Wiquist) "The oldest long distance hiking trail in America: it's a positive thing for town economy, for town image. Bolton will be the place where the Long Trail will cross the Winooski River. I think it'll be really beneficial."

(Host) But some town officials worry about parking around the project and safety.

The Board says it will conduct more research and hold public hearings before deciding whether to support the Club's plan.

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