Court Rules in Favor of West River Trail

West River Trail, Rice Farm Road AccessFrom the Brattleboro Reformer, Friday, November 10, 2017. http://www.reformer.com/stories/court-rules-in-favor-of-west-river-trail-group,524346

The public has rights, under a “prescriptive easement,” to use a portion of the West River Trail in Dummerston, according to a ruling issued on Wed., Nov. 9 by Judge John W. Valente of the Windham County Superior Court.

The ruling also established that the non-profit group Friends of the West River Trail owns title to a 2-acre disputed parcel of land including the trail itself, located at the Rice Farm Road end of the trail in Dummerston.

At that location, Melvin L. Mayo, the owner of several parcels of land along Rice Farm Road, had erected barriers intended to prevent use of the trail. In a judgment issued as part of his decision, Valente ordered that Mayo is “enjoined from interfering with the public’s use of the railbed [the trail] for recreational purposes.”

Further, he ruled that “members of the public may remove all fencing, debris, barriers, or signs discouraging use of the railbed in a fashion consistent with the terms of the easement.”

A lawsuit had been brought by the Friends organization against Mayo, after efforts to resolve Mayo’s land claims out of court were unsuccessful.

The prescriptive easement, as described by Valente in his ruling, provides that “all members of the public may use the railbed that runs through Mr. Mayo’s southerly parcel for non-motorized recreation. This includes, but is not limited to, running, cycling, walking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.” The easement is based on trial testimony making clear the continuous use of the trail by the public over many decades.

Valente added that “the public may make reasonably necessary repairs to continue this use, such as clearing brush, mowing and repairing flooding or culverts that impede recreational use of the trail.”

The trail is located on the railbed of the former 36-mile West River Railroad, which operated from Brattleboro to Londonderry from 1880 to 1936. After the railroad ceased operations, the iron rails were sold for scrap, and much of the route became a trail, used informally for decades for recreational purposes.

Friends of the West River Trail was founded in 1992 to repair and restore the trail, beginning with the 16-mile upper section from Londonderry to Townshend. In 2012, the group began repairing and improving the 3.5-mile lower section from Brattleboro to Dummerston. It acquired several adjoining parcels, including the land at the Rice Farm Trailhead involved in the dispute, and the 21-acre Riverstone Preserve located in Brattleboro.

Lester Humphreys, chair of the steering committee for the lower section of the trail, said, “This removes any doubts the public may have had about using the full length of the lower section of the trail, from the trailhead near the Marina Restaurant all the way to Rice Farm Road. We have enjoyed good relations with many of the landowners along the trail, and as stewards of the trail, we look forward to working with all of them in the future.”

Humphreys also pointed to the newly-restored trail section below the new I-91 bridge. “All the bridge work is done now, and that section has been beautifully restored by Bazin Brothers, as contractor for PCL, the bridge builders,” he said.

Final Trail Talk I-91 Bridge

I-91 Bridge ConstructionThe FINAL trail talk will be held September 12, 2017. Interested participants should meet the PCL+FIGG Team at the West River Trail (Marina) trailhead at 8 a.m. and the talk will begin at 8:15 a.m.

For more information, please contact Bonnie Clark, Public Relations Officer, at bclark@pcl.com. PCL Civil Constructors, Inc., 41 Spring Tree Road, Brattleboro, Vermont 05301. Phone 802-251-0709 .

Rice Farm Road Trailhead Access

West River Trail Rice Farm Road TrailheadThere will be a court hearing on the subject in the Newfane Court House 9 am on August 21st, 2017.

As many of you have seen, a plastic fence has been put up at the Rice Farm Road trailhead. About three years ago, Mr. Melvin Mayo purchased the lot and buildings above the trailhead on the West River Trail. As confirmed by the courts, he purchased only 2 acres down to the former West River Railroad. However Mr. Mayo is claiming ownership down to the river, based on the Dummerston tax map, which is incorrect.

People have been using this beautiful trail along the West River since at least the 1930s when the railroad tracks were taken up. So, the fence and the attempt to block the public from using the trail negatively affects many people in our community. There will be a court hearing on the subject in the Newfane Court House 9 am on August 21st, 2017. Please feel free to come to the public hearing and to add your stories about the trail in the comments section below.

Posted on behalf of Lester Humphreys, Friends of the West River Trail.

*11/12/2017 Court Rules in Favor of West River Trail http://www.reformer.com/stories/court-rules-in-favor-of-west-river-trail-group,524346

August 5th Trail Talk Cancelled

West River Trail I-91 BridgeThe AUGUST 5, 2017 TRAIL TALK HAS BEEN CANCELLED. Thank you for your continued understanding. We apologize for any inconveniences this may cause. For More Information please contact Bonnie Clark, Public Relations Officer, at bclark@pcl.com.

Trail Closed on Mon 7/31 & Tue 8/1

west river trail april 2017 - 3Bridge demolition above the West River Trail trail will continue the week of July 31st and will be blocked at times by construction equipment. The trail will be closed on Monday (7/31) and Tuesday (8/1) while they take down the old bridge near the trail. We encourage pedestrians to not use this section of trail on Monday and Tuesday due the work in this area, but personnel will be stationed nearby to provide warning when work is occurring overhead.

Users of the West River Trail should exercise extreme caution at intersections between construction access and the trail path. As an additional safety precaution, users of the West River Trail are reminded to keep pets on a leash in this area.

The next trail talk will be held August 5, 2017. Interested participants should meet the PCL+FIGG Team at the West River Trail trailhead at 8 am and the talk will begin at 8:15 am.

If you would like additional information, please contact Bonnie Clark, Public Relations Officer, at bclark@pcl.com.

The West River Trail & Trail Talk

West River Trail, mountain laurelHappy summer! The West River Trail is open during bridge construction! Please take care at the Brattleboro Marina Trailhead construction intersections. During upcoming bridge demolition, construction personnel will be stationed to provide warning to pedestrians when work is occurring overhead.

Trail users should exercise extreme caution at intersections between construction access and the trail path. As an additional safety precaution, please keep pets on a leash, especially in the construction zone.

The next trail talk will be held August 5, 2017. Interested participants should meet the PCL+FIGG Team at the West River Trail trailhead at 8 am and the talk will begin at 8:15 am. For more Information, please contact Bonnie Clark, Public Relations Officer, at bclark@pcl.com.

BrattlePaddle Canoe & Kayak Races

BrattlePaddleSave the date for the BrattlePaddle Canoe & Kayak Races! Proceeds will benefit the West River Trail. Please join us!
A great family outing, with fun races for all skill levels!
Sunday July 23, 2017
Registration: 8 – 9:30 am, Race starts: 10 am
Entry fee: $20.00
Racing distance: 9 miles
Recreational distance: 3.5 miles
Separate starts for different classes
Awards will be presented following the races
A light lunch will be provided under the party tent for all registered participants by the Marina
The Marina
For more information please contact:
Sandy Harris, 603-363-4868; racemonkey14@myfairpoint.net

Directions from North or South
I-91 to exit 3, South on Route 5 to The Marina On the Water (located right before the bridge where the West and Connecticut rivers meet.

Proceeds to benefit the West River Trail.