By MICHAEL FRETT
Islander Staff Writer
MILTON – With a chorus of shuffling rakes and brooms, the crashes of trash bags smacking a dumpster and the roar of a chainsaw clearing brand new biking trails, volunteers signaled the start of the summer parks season in Milton this weekend with a volunteer “spruce up” of Bombardier Park.
According to Jenna Tucker Eugair, the director of Milton’s recreation department, the town had made a tradition of formally opening its flagship park with an annual “Park Spruce Up Day,” inviting volunteers to help Milton’s modest recreation staff prepare Bombardier Park as seasonal park maintenance begins.
“It’s a long tradition, at least as long as the recreation department has existed,” Tucker Eugair told The Islander. “It helps get people involved and it helps us, because we don’t have a lot of people.”
This year, a team of around a dozen volunteers joined Tucker Eugair and assistant recreation director Ben Nappi in cleaning out the park’s fieldhouse, tidying up its popular dog park, hoisting tennis nets and, in a wooded area along the park’s western edge, blazing and clearing long-sought mountain bike trails.
Ryan Logan, a Milton resident and “Park Spruce Up Day” volunteer, scraped at the edges of the trails with a rake, clearing out the first leg of a growing network of mountain bike trails in Bombardier Park.
Logan, himself a mountain biker, said he wanted to lend a hand in bringing mountain bike trails “closer to home,” telling The Islander he “jumped at the opportunity” to help a larger group of volunteers with blazing new mountain bike trails through the town’s centerpiece park.
“I like to see them built,” he said, “and helping be a part of that is a wonderful thing.”
Ryan Bushey, another member of the group of volunteers tending to the trails and, as of a brief Saturday game of “Nose Goes,” the group’s anointed spokesperson, said the trails had been “years in the making” and would soon be ready for a “grand opening” planned for the coming summer.
“Milton has great opportunities for recreational activities, and mountain biking has been growing across this state, but there’s a big hole in Milton,” Bushey, another mountain biker, told The Islander. “We thought it’d be great to have something close to home here in Milton.”
According to Tucker Eugair, the project had been warmly welcomed by Milton’s recreation commission and recreation department, fitting neatly into a larger priority for the department involving the promotion of walking and biking trails in the Chittenden County community.
“Trails were one of the top requested things when we did our survey in 2019 and 2020,” Tucker Eugair said, “and we had this amazing volunteer group who approached us.”
After clearing the first leg of trails Saturday, the volunteer group began marking and blazing an eventual second leg to Bombardier Park’s mountain biking trails, paths Tucker Eugair said would also welcome walkers looking to take in the outdoors and explore the park’s forest.
Across the park, despite some initial hiccups, Nappi, the town’s assistant recreation director, and volunteer Rod Moore, the vice chair of Milton’s recreation commission, strung tennis nets over Bombardier Park’s courts that, according to Tucker Eugair, would receive a facelift in the coming months.
While it would still be a few weeks before the park’s bathrooms could open, due to concerns relating to the ground thawing after the winter, Tucker Eugair said the “Park Spruce Up Day” effectively rang in the department’s summer season, when facilities formally opened and Bombardier Park would get a little more upkeep from staff as local families took to the outdoors.