Letter to the editor: Creek Road best managed as recreation path

In the coming weeks, Middlebury will host a public hearing on the future of Creek Road. The road has sustained repeated damage in recent years as a result of flooding, erosion, and subsidence. A portion of the road is currently closed to vehicles. As the selectboard ponders the future of the road, I encourage them to make an investment that could improve both the health and appeal of our town.
I want to be clear that current landowners should still be able to access to their land and residents of Creek Road need year-round ingress and egress routes. However, as discussed at the May 28 selectboard meeting, there are ways to do this that do not involve rehabilitating the entirety of the road.
Currently, because it is not a through road, Creek Road is used more as a recreation path than a road. I urge the selectboard to embrace and enhance this version of the road. Since the road is almost car free, it has become an ideal place for individuals and families to bike, run, and walk. While the town already has its own ‘emerald necklace’ in the Trail Around Middlebury, the TAM is a trail with rocks and roots and steep inclines. Creek Road is mostly level and wide, making it more accessible to our youngest cyclists and walkers, as well as those with more limited mobility. As a recreational path, it would provide an ideal complement to the more technical trails of Battell Woods, Chipman Hill and the TAM.
Since the road runs parallel to the Otter Creek, it is a ‘blue space’ and as such has health benefits that, according to current research, are above and beyond ‘green spaces’. Blue spaces can reduce stress and improve moods, and those who cycle, walk, or run near water are likely to do so for longer periods of time further improving health. To promote greater usage of Creek Road as a recreation path, the selectboard could install a few benches or tables at existing pull-offs on the road.
Obviously, the selectboard is considering the future of Creek Road because of recurring flooding. The town will have to take action to make the road, whatever future form it takes, more resilient to the floods that will continue to occur. But, if the selectboard chooses to maintain Creek Road as a town road, it will have to make significant investments to ensure the road does not flood or else commit to making repeated payments to repair damage caused by flooding.
However, Creek Road as a recreational path can be allowed to flood during high water events. Several portions of the road were underwater for days this spring but now, even with little or no repair, the road is once again accessible and visited daily by walkers, runners, and cyclists. The community will have to accept that flooding will periodically close the Creek Road recreational path, but that is a small price for a 2.3-mile stretch of recreational infrastructure. I ask the selectboard to seize this opportunity to make a small investment that will improve the health and vibrancy of our community.
Erik Remsen

Share this story:

More News

Bernard D. Kimball, 76, of Middlebury

MIDDLEBURY — Bernard D. Kimball, 76, passed away in Bennington Hospital on Jan. 10, 2023. … (read more)

News Uncategorized

Fresh Air Fund youths returning to county

The Fresh Air Fund, initiated in 1877 to give kids from New York City the opportunity to e … (read more)

Obituaries Uncategorized

Mark A. Nelson of Bristol

BRISTOL — A memorial service for Mark A. Nelson of Bristol will be held 1 p.m. on Saturday … (read more)

Share this story: