Moretown, with a population of over 1,600, and Middlesex, with a population of just over 1,700, are located in Washington County, along the I-89 corridor. Traditionally these communities have had a strong agricultural heritage, and dairy farming, logging and maple sugaring have all been part of the local economy. The landscape attracts visitors and residents to the area. Consequently, both communities have struggled with how to retain their character as they have developed as bedroom communities.
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When the state began the Vermont Byways Program, Waterbury, Stowe and several Mad River Valley communities joined together to submit a grant proposal to complete a corridor management plan for the Green Mountain Crossroads Scenic Byway. That proposal encompassed Route 100 through Warren north through Stowe, as well as Route 100B from Middlesex to its junction with Route 100 in Moretown, and Route 17 to the top of the Appalachian Gap. The proposal was not funded, but the idea of scenic byways was planted in the Valley.
Five years later, the towns of Moretown and Middlesex were planning to protect the Route 100B corridor. While it is a beautiful walk or bike ride, it is often not safe due to the speed of cars and trucks along the route. They decided to move forward with designating Route 100B as a Vermont Byway. Their goals included revitalizing both Middlesex and Moretown Villages, protecting natural resources, and ensuring the safety of all those enjoying the scenic resources of this road – whether they were in a car, on a bike or on foot. Designation also provides access to state and federal funding for projects that enhanced this scenic corridor.
Route 100B has received state designation and a management plan has been developed that outlines a strategy for achieving their goals for this road. The management plan also identified many projects to alert travelers to the scenic, historical and cultural resource along the route, preserve historic buildings, or improve the views along the road. These projects include informational brochures, kiosks, way-finding signs, the restoration of the old one-room school house and removal of a town sand-pile to establish a community park. Implementation of many of these strategies is in progress or completed. For example, Moretown has updated their bylaws regarding scenic roadways by clarifying what uses are allowed and which uses are conditional, as well as drafting development guidelines for potentially harmful activities such as the extraction of earth resources.
- Town leadership was critical in ensuring the success of the Byways program – for both the designation process as well as implementing the management plan.
- Engaging the community is important and must go beyond just holding a meeting. They were successful because people actively involved in the process reached out and called their friends and asked them to come.
- The Byways program has promoted an enhanced sense of community within the northern portion of the Mad River Valley.