Rutland Creek Path gets $295K
By Cristina Kumka
STAFF WRITER | November 13,2012
The Rutland Creek Path, a 10-foot-wide bicycle, pedestrian and wheelchair-accessible path through the city’s Northwest neighborhood, recently tacked $295,000 to its list of grants.
In its latest round of funding, the Vermont Agency of Transportation announced $2.5 million in federal funding statewide for bike and walking paths, engineering work, sidewalks and signal improvements in 13 Vermont towns.
The 295,000 went to pay for two parts of the Rutland project.
Scoping of Segment 5 of the Creek Path that runs along Dorr Drive to the College of St. Joseph, received $35,000 of the Rutland share. The engineering and construction of Segment 4, which received $260,000, runs along Otter Creek behind the softball fields at Meadow Street Park and to River Street, near the Mount St. Joseph Academy ballfield.
Nov. 3, the first segment of the path from Giorgetti Park past the Rutland jail to State Street, was opened for use.
So far, the Rutland Creative Economy, headed by Rutland resident and business owner Paul Gallo, has raised more than $1 million in federal grants and local matches in the past five years, including private donations and free labor and supplies from local companies.
The majority of the money will be used to have the Meadow Street section of the path open by 2014.
Segment 2 — running from the newly opened State Street section to West Street — is already funded and is expected to be open next year.
Gallo said Monday that the Creek Path is one of the top five open projects Vermont is supporting through VTrans funding. He said it is unlikely funding will dry up because of local momentum and local match funds used to secure the grants.
Wilk Paving, Belden Construction and vocational students all contributed to the match for the grant for the first segment of the path, including other donors who contributed time and money.
Gallo said the project has received $300,000 in cash pledges, absent any formal fundraisers. The biggest donor so far was Jane’s Trust Foundation that donated $130,000 in honor of a woman who supported Creative Economy projects in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, Gallo said.
Gallo is now starting to write grant applications for Segment 3 of the path and is seeking another $300,000. He needs $75,000 in pledges, cash or in-kind, to match it.
“Where the snag is, is there is only so much money you can apply for annually,” Gallo said. “Segment 1 was the most expensive and that took three years of federal grant writing before we could get it started. We had a community hearing on this project five years ago and finally, we have a completed section.”
Another reason the path is being done in sections and over time is because it has to be compliant with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act in order to get the funding. That includes a nearly seamless pitch and grade to the path to make it as accessible to wheelchairs as possible.
Gallo said it’s not like Pine Hill Park, where dirt, ungraded multi-use trails are the norm.
“Our goal was to make sure we allowed everyone in the community to use this, strollers and wheelchairs,” he said. “We want high-volume usage and it runs along two waterways that are underutilized. We want to expose the community to the beauty of the streams.”