Town Seeks Input on Pathway Naming

family on rail trail
Town Seeks Input on Pathway Naming

Over the past thirty years, the Town and local organizations have pursued efforts to create a system of paths and trails for Bennington. Today, that includes sixteen paths and trails including multi-use paths located in the more heavily populated central parts of town and hiking and/or biking trails in less populated areas.
While the existing paths and trails have generally recognized names that work well, the Bennington Planning Commission has identified a need for developing a comprehensive naming convention for the system of Pathways in Town as it continues to expand and develop. The Planning Commission has created a committee to develop a proposal for guidelines for naming and branding guidelines for paths and trails, including the renaming of existing Pathways as needed or deemed appropriate. The Pathway Naming Committee consisting of Planning Commission members, Town and BCRC staff has met a number of times to begin this work and the Town seeks input from the community on this effort.
The goal is to have path and trail names that reflect cohesive themes centered around local places, ideas, values, or geographical or historic themes. The names of the paths and trails should consider the users of the path/trail as well, such as residents, visitors, cyclists, walkers, runners, and commuters. 
A comprehensive naming/branding theme for the path and trail system as a whole is desired.  An initial consensus revealed that having the name “Bennington” and “Community” were important for the naming of the path and trail system as a whole. For example; “Bennington Community Pathway System” or similar name may be a good fit.
The naming challenge exists within the path and trail system as well. With the completion of the Bennington Rail Trail, the restoration of the temporary bridges on the Ninja Trail, the new connector to the Riverwalk and the Riverwalk itself, we now have a nearly continuous North/South pathway that runs from Downtown Bennington to Bennington College in North Bennington. Currently, the pathway has at least three names, and the need for a single name to unify the path has been identified.
Using the pathway naming goals mentioned earlier, the Pathway Naming Committee noted the name “Walloomsac Valley Path” or similar name could work well for the North/South pathway. The new name would replace the informal  “Ninja Trail” and “Rail Trail” names and the entirety of the North/South pathway would be identified with new signage. The original “Downtown Riverwalk” path (also known as the Walloomsac Riverwalk) would retain that name even though it is part of the North/South route in acknowledgement of its historic role as Bennington’s first path.
An informational page has been created on the Town website with maps of the existing trail network, planned future expansions, an outline of the pathway naming criteria, and a public comment form for the community to provide input and feedback. Please visit this page. Public comment will be open until November 30th at which time those comments will be included for review by the Planning Commission to inform its work in finalizing a Pathway Naming Proposal for approval by the Select Board.