07 26 2018

Remaking The Heart of the Valley: A Progress Report
Anonymous grantor challenges Path Association to raise $25,000 in matching funds by September
Waitsfield – Walkers and wheelers are starting to see major changes in Irasville, not only with the opening of the Mad River Taste Place last summer, but also with the pending openings of Worthy Burger restaurant and Lawson’s Finest Liquids taproom and brewery later this summer and fall.
To support the improvement of outdoor facilities in Irasville and the covered bridge district in the “Heart of the Valley”, an anonymous funder has challenged the Mad River Path Association to raise $25,000 in matching funds by September to receive one of the largest grants ever committed for the Mad River Path.
“From the Evergreen Senior Center to the General Wait House, our goal is to make it easy, fun, safe, and comfortable to walk and wheel among the businesses and natural areas that tie the Valley’s ‘heart’ together,” said Laura Brines, President of the Mad River Path Association. “This is the beginning of a year-long campaign to help revitalize this core commercial area, where so many Valley people go every day and so many Valley businesses are located.”
According to Sean Lawson, who recently headlined the Path Association’s annual meeting at the Mad River Taste Place, followed by a nature walk on the Path’s Irasville wetlands boardwalk, "There has been a vision for Irasville and the Bridge district for decades - helping people park once and walk, helping seniors and kids and families get around comfortably and safely, joining together lots of goals to make a dynamic, outdoor-oriented destination." A summary video of the annual meeting is available on MRVTV’s website at https://youtu.be/gY9DL8T5Pu0 or at www.madriverpath.com.
The Vermont Community Foundation’s “Spark! Connecting Community” program, which invests in community infrastructure, recently granted the project $1,500. Another anonymous donor at the Vermont Community Foundation added $1,000. The Mad River Valley Rotary Club approved an even larger grant in mid-July. Lawson’s Finest Liquids and other Valley businesses have provided about $12,000 in support.

The huge $25,000 challenge grant would be a major boost to the project. “If we succeed in raising the money to meet this challenge, we will exceed our original fundraising goal and we will be able to do lots more high-quality work in the Heart of the Valley, adding the Village Path in the Bridge district,” according to Path executive director Ned Farquhar.
Any amount of funding is welcome, according to Farquhar. “Public support for this project has already been very impressive. Many people make volunteer and financial commitments throughout the Valley. And the Path Association really needs financial support now to leverage the generous commitment by a supportive anonymous donor.” Farquhar added that the potential project donor is not a staff or board member of the organization – simply a very supportive external donor.
“The Path Association is ‘going where the people are’ to support Valley residents and visitors as they shop, eat out, bank, go to the movies, or wander and birdwatch along the wetlands and natural areas such as our boardwalk or on the old lumber mill levee on the Village Path,” according to Path Executive Director Ned Farquhar. “This Hosford Heart of the Valley trail is truly a great community asset and we invite people to use it, to volunteer, to donate, and to give us their ideas for continuing to make it better.”
The Path’s annual membership drive is also underway, and Farquhar encourages members and businesses to donate to the project, to renew their membership, or to join the organization on the Path website, www.MadRiverPath.com.