BENNINGTON -- Regional planners will seek the Select Board's support of a $130,000 grant application to build a path between Applegate Apartments and Willowbrook Drive.
Mark Anders, regional planner with the Bennington County Regional Commission, said he intended to make a presentation on the project at Monday's meeting, but a public hearing on a water bond took up most of the evening, so he will wait until the board meets again.
The board is not being asked to contribute funds, but the grant requires the town agree to hold easements where the path will be built. A 10 percent local match must be fronted, and the Bennington County Regional Commission and the Southwestern Vermont Supervisory Union have agreed to help. Housing Vermont, the entity that owns Applegate, is also expected to assist with the cost.
Applegate Housing Limited Partnership will be responsible for maintaining the path, Anders wrote in a memo to the board.
"There is now no safe pedestrian access to Applegate Apartments," Anders wrote. "The new path 2 1 will connect Applegate to the Town sidewalk network on Willowbrook Drive and allow residents - particularly Applegate's 100-plus children - to safely walk to schools, jobs, and grocery stores."
Anders wrote that because Orchard Road is not safe for masses of children to walk on, those who attend Molly Stark Elementary School have to be bused there. The distance is less than half a mile. According to Anders, some of the school's absenteeism is attributed to children missing the bus.
The eight-foot wide path will be made of packed gravel and have two boardwalks going over wetlands and streams. The path will be 480 feet long, having lighting, and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Anders' memo includes a picture of makeshift bridge people have built from a shopping cart and a board in that area, meaning there is a need and desire for the path. It also contains photos of people walking along the shoulder of Orchard Road, some of whom are in the roadway as the shoulder is too narrow for easy pedestrian traffic.
The board meets the second and fourth Monday of every month unless otherwise warned. The next meeting will be June 23 at 6 p.m. on the third floor of the Bennington Fire Facility on River Street.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.