Rail Trail Through Greensboro Bend Makes Progress
by Dan Predpall
GREENSBORO BEND – Anyone living in Greensboro Bend or driving through recently, has seen changes on the former railroad track, now the “Rail Trail”, including a new bridge over the Lamoille River near the depot. The completion of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail will be a dream-come-true for hikers, bikers, and snowmobilers in the region. It is slated for completion in November this year.
The trail is the focus of a municipal plan for the Bend, a result several years of work by a group called the Bend Revitalization Initiative (BRI) committee. The nucleus of the committee started when, at the Greensboro Town Meeting in March 2018, some town residents asked that the select board address issues affecting the Bend. A group of citizens from both villages met throughout 2018 and 2019 to discuss residents’ concerns and desires. In 2020, they applied for a municipal plan grant that had a focus on the rail trail. The grant was awarded in 2021 and a redevelopment plan was finalized in April of this year. The organization has also received 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
On June 20, the BRI held a meeting at Fellowship Hall in Greensboro to bring interested people up to date on their activities, and discuss the redevelopment plan. Katherine Sims, Greensboro’s state representative and a member of the steering committee that provided oversight of the plan, attended the meeting. Sims has been a strong supporter of the town and BRI efforts in the Bend.
Dan Predpall, BRI President, conducted a brief visioning session, where attendees expressed their ideas about what they would like to see in the Bend. Then Predpall described the plan. Key parts include construction of off-street parking to avoid trail visitors parking on Main Street, installation of trail amenities, such as benches, picnic tables, and bike racks, restrooms and water station, and a collective building to encourage new businesses by local residents, centered on trail users.
Predpall went on to say that the BRI is working with the town and applying for grants that would enable these facilities to be built. It is hoped that grant funding will be available by next spring, when many of the plan’s amenities could be put in place.
“The goal of the BRI is to bring back economic vitality to the Bend”, he concluded. While the current focus is on the Rail Trail, the BRI is also supportive of affordable housing, obtaining historic preservation grants to upgrade structures, helping families living in the Bend, and encouraging further investment in the Bend.
A copy of the Bend Redevelopment Plan can be found on the Bend website at thebendvt.org.