Imagine a recreation path that connects Newport City to bike paths in Canada. With Lake Memphremagog to the west and farms and forestland to the east, this seven-mile trail would be a major attraction for visitors and bring their business to local shops, hotels, and restaurants.
In 2017, the Vermont Land Trust was awarded a $425,000 grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission to build a section of trail across Bluffside Farm, a 129-acre farm the land trust bought in 2015.
With work already underway on a section of trail downtown, this last stretch of trail would be the final connection needed to create a seven-mile, car-free recreation path. See map below.
The grant must be matched in full by September 2018, or the money will be lost.
How did this come about?
In 2015, the Vermont Land Trust bought Bluffside Farm, a former dairy located on the lake. It has farmland, woodland, and a large natural sand beach. The land trust then held a community-visioning process. Three priorities emerged: recreation, farming, and nature.
A trail through the farm would eliminate the need for path users to use traveled roads between downtown Newport and the Beebe Spur Trail, which lies north of downtown and connects to Canada. A car-free, seven-mile trail addresses the community’s recreation priority.
How would this help Newport?
The trail will be a great place for residents and visitors to get outside and enjoy the lake.
In the wake of the EB5 scandal, the city has had to re-imagine itself. One of the things coming out of this process is the importance of the lake to the city’s future. Improving lake access will build a more vibrant and resilient city.
If successful, this project will result in more tourism and downtown business growth, access to safe, accessible recreation, and, better walkability will benefit all those who live in the region.
Preliminary analysis using a model generated in Vermont, shows that over $1.5 million of annual economic activity and 25 jobs are generated by the traffic to the existing Beebe Spur Rail Trail, which currently connects to downtown Newport on regular, trafficked roads.
A 2006 Quebec study demonstrated $134 million in annual spending related to the Canadian network just over the border.
How much will it cost?
The total cost of the trail through the farm, which will involve construction of a pedestrian bridge, will be about $1,125,000. Nearly 75% of this could come from federal funding, but local match is critical to remain eligible for these funds.
Map of proposed trail through Bluffside Farm
Learn more about Bluffside Farm.