Looking back on 2019, we are amazed – again – at how much has been accomplished through the dedication and hard work of our Mad River Valley neighbors!
Some of this work was shared at the MRV Town Leadership meeting in November, the 15th annual meeting organized by the Mad River Valley Planning District (MRVPD). In addition to the Planning District, the MRV Recreation District (MRVRD), Green Mountain Transit (GMT), Ridge to River Taskforce, and Sugarbush Resort presented updates to over 45 attendees and MRV Television. MRVPD’s new Community Planner also presented an overview of the 2019 MRV Data Report, which portrays a community with many strengths and opportunities – as well as challenges, including a lack of affordable housing.
Following the 2017 MRV Housing Study, which highlighted a severe and ongoing need for affordable and accessible housing, MRVPD staff facilitated a revitalization of the MRV Housing Coalition. The MRV Housing Coalition, founded in 1989, was poised for renewal and fresh energy to tackle current housing barriers. The reorganization efforts resulted in new membership and Board of Directors established in April 2019, who are now working toward a MRV housing summit in spring 2020. To support the upcoming work of the MRV Housing Coalition and MRV towns, MRVPD coordinated the MRV Housing Demand and Market Analysis, which was completed by Doug Kennedy Advisors in December 2019 (to be released in January 2020).
The MRV Unified Trailhead Kiosk & Mapping Project ramped up in 2019 as part of a Valley-wide effort to provide greater awareness of local trails and to emphasize connectivity from town to town and valley to ridges. The Project is a MRV Trails Collaborative effort (representing 13 local partners) led by the MRV Planning District. With help from Waitsfield-based Wood & Wood Sign Systems, Waitsfield resident and GIS professional Brian Voigt, Fayston resident and fabricator Seth Henry, and dozens of volunteers, trailhead kiosks were designed, fabricated, and installed. 30 trailhead kiosks have been installed as of December, 2019. An updated, waterproof Mad River Valley Trail Map was completed in summer 2019. 1,000 maps were made available at no cost to the community via town offices and libraries. Additionally, maps are available for purchase at a variety of local retailers.
In June, MRVPD celebrated National Trails Weekend with a Community Walk & Trailhead Tour through Valley Floor trails, joined by 35 community members. Walkers were able to learn about the kiosks, received a new MRV Trail Map, and enjoy the Summer Recreation Kick-Off celebration organized by the MRVRD, Mad River Path, and Mad River Riders.
Faced with the potential elimination of the MRV winter bus service provided by Green Mountain Transit (GMT), MRVPD advocated for its continuation with support from the MRV Transportation Advisory Committee (MRV TAC) and Sugarbush Resort. In the 2018-19 season, the MRV Bus provided over 51,000 rides to the mountain and around the Valley. In an effort to improve service for community members and reduce costs, MRV TAC members pursued a new Valley Floor bus route for the 2019-20 season; the new route adds stops across for the MRV Senior Center, drives through the MRV Green Shopping Center, and ends at the MRV Health Center. We hope you’ll try it out and let us know what you think!
As the MRV lacks many transit options beyond the winter bus, MRVPD worked this year to support community transit efforts by coordinating MRV TAC, local stakeholders, VTrans, and Central VT Council on Aging to discuss opportunities and resources. These efforts and those of other community groups (including the MRV Senior Citizens, MRV Community Fund, and MRV Interfaith Council, etc.) led to the development of Free Wheelin’, a ride program for local seniors launched by the MRV Senior Center in June.