For the past 12 years, school children of the Mad River Valley have learned to play soccer and lacrosse at Mad River Park, a privately owned property that was leased to the Town of Waitsfield. When the owners of the field decided they wanted to sell the 10-acre property, they first offered it to the town for $550,000, far less than the appraised value. Even so, the price tag was daunting. But, the community decided to rally to save this much-used, much-loved piece of land.
“Mad River Park was the place where I fell in love with the game of soccer,” said Ethan Riddell, captain, Harwood varsity soccer, class of 2017. “It was a sanctuary for me where I could forget about everything other than me and the soccer ball.” After securing some important grant money and allocations from several towns, the Mad River Valley Recreation District stepped in to buy the park on behalf of the community. The Vermont Land Trust helped with the remaining fundraising for the purchase, helping to raise $138,000 in private donations.
Now Mad River Park is publicly owned and its future for recreation is assured. Public ownership of this park means that the use of the fields can be expanded to accommodate activities such as adult leagues and soccer tournaments. The Mad River Path Association has plans for a new footpath around the fields for walking and socializing. Funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Towns of Waitsfield, Warren, Fayston, and Moretown, and contributions from 175 community members. (September 2017)