KT ;andowners.jpg

KTA Landowners at the 2018 Landowner Appreciation Dinner.

January 23, 2020

To the Community:

Kingdom Trails is much more than a network of epic trails: it is the very embodiment of community. The trails exist because of this community’s vision, will, heart, resilience and generosity. There’s an incredible culture of sharing and giving that underlies these trails. It’s the founders of KTA; the private landowners and volunteers; the outdoor enthusiasts and members; the local business owners and town boards; school groups and visitors alike that complete and make special the landscape and experience of Kingdom Trails. These tangible and intangible qualities are what make these trails so special, visiting our area so memorable and why we must work hard to preserve this remarkable community legacy.

Community is about common ownership. Unfortunately, as stewards of the trails and KTA, we have been slow to respond to issues and concerns and we acknowledge our lack of voice and leadership. We sincerely apologize and we take full responsibility. We will not look for excuses, rather we will listen, and we will act. It is clear that we have insufficiently managed the exceptional growth of Kingdom Trails, which has placed undue stress and impacts on our community. We, like many others, have been caught up in the trail network’s economic successes but have missed the unintended consequences and negative outcomes that growth brings. We wholeheartedly commit to a change in focus.

Community is about public spirit. The very good news is that there is plenty of spirit and passion for Kingdom Trails, enough to circumnavigate the earth by bike many times over. Thank you, truly, for all of your emails, letters, social media posts and phone calls. We hope, through better and more productive engagement, to positively channel that spirit and passion as we tackle the issues before us.

There are two immediate ways that we are addressing community engagement. First is through the creation of a Landowner Committee, advising the Board of Directors, and hosting regular landowner forums. Yes, we thank them publicly every day and honor them with a celebration annually, yet it is just that, a party. It is not a conversation nor platform to share feedback and concerns.

Second, please bring all of that public spirit to bear on the Community Forum Open House we are hosting on February 11th at the Burke Town School from 5:00-7:30PM. This is a community project, in partnership with the Burke Chamber, to solicit ideas, feedback and input on addressing the growth, infrastructure and capacity issues associated with the trail network.

Community is shared by many or all. A lot of the dialogue on social media centered around respecting the trails and trail etiquette. There is only one group to call out on this subject and that is us. We have not done enough to educate trail users. It’s KTA’s responsibility to inform trail users about proper etiquette while on our trails and when visiting our community. Nothing undermines goodwill and a culture of sharing more quickly and effectively than a dishonoring of common values in how we treat one another. In response, we are broadening our current trail use policy and developing a robust code of conduct. We are exploring ways through the membership and waiver system to ensure that every user must read, watch and agree to the code of conduct. We will also be redirecting a substantial portion of our marketing budget to user education and promoting KTA’s new code of conduct. Additionally, to better enforce trail rules we will be deploying more trail ambassadors and increasing their presence on the network.

Community is about common enjoyment. We recognize that congestion, particularly on Darling Hill and other network hot spots, has adversely affected quality of life and enjoyment. To address this, we have taken action to relocate events such as Winterbike to East Burke Town Center. We recently announced that NEMBAfest will not be held on Kingdom Trails. Further, we plan to expand shuttle service around the trail network to help minimize traffic and parking issues and build new trails to help disperse trail traffic to other areas in Lyndon, Burke and East Haven, as well as join community-action efforts to reduce the speed limit on Darling Hill to 25 mph. And, certainly, the results of our network capacity and feasibility study will help outline long term and sustainable solutions to better balance and manage trail use and quality of life for years to come.

This is not a complete list of action steps or remedies but a start of more to come as there is much work to do. As Kingdom Trails is a community endeavor, we ask you to continue to share with us and to be engaged. We can’t bring about another 25 years of success without the investment of our community. In turn, we promise to be more responsive and transparent as we roll out plans and address challenges. We intend to do everything we can to regain your full trust and support.

With gratitude,

Kingdom Trail Association Board of Directors and Staff

Katie Story, Chair, West Burke

Abby Long, Executive Director, East Burke

Jake Wheeler, Vice Chair & Landowner, East Burke

CJ Scott, Trails Manager, Wheelock

Tabitha Bowling, Treasurer, East Burke

Lilias Ide, Marketing & Events Manager, Kirby

Thomas DeCarlo, Secretary, Kirby

Erin Donnelly, Operations Manager, Lyndonville

Doug Clarner, Landowner, East Burke

Rob Elmes, Lyndonville

Matt Langlais, West Burke

Elise Lawson, Landowner, West Burke

Harry Morrison, Lyndon

Ann Nygard, West Burke

Thad Richardson, Lyndon