Mountain bike trails, rental registry, and hybrid meetings all get a nod

At their May 2 meeting, the Ludlow Selectboard agreed to go ahead with a new mountain bike trail, the Town Rental Registry, and discussed hybrid meetings. Photo provided

LUDLOW, Vt. – During their May 2 meeting, the Ludlow Selectboard gave their support and a tentative pledge for $10,000 in matching funds for the mountain bike trail project on the “Back 40,” town land located behind Ludlow Elementary School. They also determined the structure and size for establishing a Ludlow rental registry committee, and agreed to set up remote access for hybrid selectboard meetings starting in July.

Mariel Meringelo, a Mountain Bike Committee member working with the Ludlow Recreation Department, spoke to the board and said she already had fundraising commitments for $10,250. Once the board provided their support for the project and approved the $10,000 in match money, she would collect the money to begin Phase I, which is estimated to cost $20,000, and includes a beginners loop and pump track. Ludlow Municipal Manager Scott Murphy confirmed they had $40,000 in available funds in their Recreation fund to draw from.

Several community members expressed their support for the project including Marissa Selleck who is on the board of the Expeditionary School at Black River. She also passed along messages of support from ESBR Head of School Kendra Rickerby, and Two Rivers Supervisory Union Superintendent Lauren Fierman. ESBR is planning a course that would include trail maintenance as part of their curriculum.

Although the board offered initial support and enthusiasm for the project, several questions were raised including whether the project had resources and manpower for ongoing trail maintenance, what permitting issues the project might face, and who would be responsible for liability.

The board agreed to give their consensus to move forward with the project as well as a tentative commitment for the $10,000 match, but said they would make the final agreement at an upcoming special meeting planned for Monday, May 16 once the Mountain Bike Committee, Rec. Dept, and Murphy could provide some answers about insurance, specifically whether that insurance might be available through the Vermont Mountain Bike Association, whether Act 250 permitting would be needed, and input from the Recreation Department and volunteers on maintenance.

Schmidt emphasized that this project, as with the skate park, is something that, if the town is committed to do, “We got to do it 100%,” saying the town will ultimately be responsible to keep the area safe and well maintained. “So if we’re committed, we got to be committed long term.”

The board approved moving forward to form a Ludlow Rental Registry Committee and determined the board would include seven members in total: two from the selectboard; one from the Ludlow Planning Commission; and four from other stakeholders in the community. Appointments to that committee will also happen on May 16. Justin Hyjek and Scott Baitz volunteered to be the selectboard members to serve on the committee.

Hyjek clarified that the registry would be used fairly and should not be seen as a punishment for short term rentals, but that they should be regulated as a commercial entity and added that the process could incentive some landlords to reconsider using their rental space differently. He also suggested that both short and long-term rentals should be a part of the registry, which seemed to be a consensus shared among several residents that attended the meeting, but would ultimately be determined by the committee itself.

One concern raised was receiving buy-in from the Ludlow Village Trustees for a rental registry, since they have openly opposed the suggestion in the past. Schmidt confirmed that the selectboard did not have authority over the trustees in matters concerning the village area.

The Ludlow Selectboard agreed to shift from in-person only meetings to a hybrid option, providing both in-person coverage and remote capabilities. How this might impact town meeting will still be up for discussion.

Murphy said that a remote system is being installed within the next two weeks and once installed they will be able to cover the meeting remotely with one attendee from Okemo Valley TV to operate the system.

The first hybrid meeting could be ready by the June meeting but more likely it would launch in July.

At the beginning of the meeting, Schmidt introduced new board member Robert Blandt, who has replaced Heather Tucker.

Appointments to vacant seats on the Planning Commission, Development Review Board, the Recreation Department, as well as other vacant town positions will be assigned at the special meeting on Monday, May 16, when letters of interest will be reviewed and public interviews held before appointing members.

The next Ludlow Selectboard meeting is their special meeting planned for Monday, May 16 at 6 p.m. Their next regular selectboard meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 6 at 6 p.m. Both will be at Ludlow Town Office in the Heald Auditorium.

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