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DORSET — A planned multi-use path running from HNWilliams store to the post office connecting that part of town with a safe route for pedestrians and bicyclists was introduced to the Select Board at its meeting Tuesday.

The path, only about a half mile in length, was presented as a potentially 8-foot wide multi-use path that could accommodate two-way traffic for walkers, dog walkers, bicyclists and others.

Town Manager Rob Gaiotti said the route is already heavily used by those groups, but there is no sidewalk or safe route leaving people on the edge of the roadway or in people's yards.

"You can see the beaten path where grass won't grow because it's getting used so much," Gaiotti said.

Early drawings on the town website showed the potential path, which would be separated from Route 30 by a buffer strip of grass.

Gaiotti told the board that the original play of putting the path on the east side of the road has been nixed because an analysis showed there are about 20 utility poles that would have to be moved at a cost of about a half-million dollars.

But moving the path to the west side of the road has it crowding a few property owners, some of whom joined the Zoom meeting Tuesday to ask questions or express concerns about the plans.

Gaiotti said that there are about 20 property owners along the route and he had spoken or emailed with 16 of them so far.

Gaiotti said he had reached to "to see what kind of potential hurdles there are from landscaping to fencing to the way the path would interact with driveways so we can understand more of the property owners' concerns," Gaiotti said. "Is it feasible to do the work and invest further in design and engineering work to push the project along?"

He said most of the property owners were supportive.

"Thirteen are supportive and would work with us to look at different design options," Gaiotti said. "Three others were less supportive."

He said the concerns were proximity to homes and one had extensive landscaping that would be impacted.

"It's a public right of way and it's a communal benefit," Gaiotti said. "But we're not going to ignore the landowners. We're going to try to leave it better than we found it. But I can't guaranteed that everyone is over the moon about it."

Gaiotti said he plans to talk to landowners about the project and get an overall sense of where they stand. That will determine what kind of path including size and material, and move on to more detailed information.

At a certain point, details renderings will be prepared to landowners can actually see what it would look like in their yard.

"Next step, if there continues to be enough support to move into a specific design, set up engineering work and see how the plan works with each lot and get real specific information we can take back to the individual property owners," Gaiotti said. "More updated design plans that would show their property, the landscaping and how it all interacts."

Gaiotti said there needs to be an improved plan in that area for safety reasons.

"The goal is to get, in some way shape or form, the path through that process where at the end of the day hopefully all the residents who will be right there on the path see it as an asset," Gaiotti said. "Once we talk to the property owners to open it up to the community as a whole."

Justine Cook, who lives on Route 30, asked why they couldn't just build a regular sidewalk.

Gaiotti said a sidewalk would have to be five feet wide anyway and the curbing would alter the look and stand out against the rest of the area.

Several options were considered, including whether it would be concrete, blacktop, or a crushed stone surface and the width.

Contact Darren Marcy at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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