Fundraising a success for trail between downtown Newport and Bluffside Farm

in Newport/News

NEWPORT — More than $1.2 million has been raised for a seven-mile, car-free waterfront recreation path that connects downtown Newport to the Canadian border and beyond.

The Waterfront Recreational Path and Lake Access Project began with the development of a walking path and dock along the downtown Newport Waterfront Plaza, which opened in spring 2018.

This new path linked to the existing path along Newport’s downtown boardwalk, forming a beautiful crescent of lakefront recreational land on Lake Memphremagog’s south shore.

The goal was to expand recreational activities along the lakefront by linking segments of existing trails along the waterfront and constructing some new trails.

The project will connect downtown to the existing Beebe Spur Rail trail, which leads to the Canadian border and a network of trails in Canada.

With $1.2 million raised for Phase II of the project, the Vermont Land Trust will begin to permit and then construct a connection between Prouty Beach and Bluffside Farm.

In late December 2015, the land trust purchased Bluffside Farm, which had been owned by one family since 1906.

The farm has nearly a mile of lakeside frontage. More than half of the frontage is on Scott’s Cove, directly across from Newport City’s Prouty Beach.

Pilings are still present from a bridge that formerly connected the two properties.

The Vermont Land Trust says they will build a new bridge across the cove as part of the trail construction.

This new feature is expected to be a draw for locals and tourists.

“Despite the fact that Newport is nearly surrounded by water, there is surprisingly little public access to the lake,” said Tracy Zschau, conservation director for the Vermont Land Trust.

Given the future trail’s benefits to the community, the Vermont Land Trust has secured several large grants, including $425,000 from the Northern Border Regional Commission.

“This is an ambitious project, being able to raise the money was critical,” explained Tracy.

“This will be a wonderful new asset for the City that came from a community engagement process,” said Newport City Manager Laura Dolgin. “The trail and access to the lake preserves our cultural roots and provides a path to the future of our recreational economy.”

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