Pathway Naming Committee

Shared-use Paths Status Map 5.17.23 Pathway Naming Committee

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 do this work, including a public outreach effort that yielded 27 public comments. The comment period ended on December 13, 2023. Those comments were reviewed by the committee and helped inform a report that was presented to the Planning Commission who then presented to the Bennington Select Board a final report on the pathway naming committee's findings and recommendations on March 11, 2024. 

The following Planning Commission recommendations for the shared use path system in Bennington were approved by the Select Board on March 11, 2024:

  • Entire system/network in Bennington (does not include mountain bike and hiking trails) - Bennington Community Pathways.
  • North/South shared use path (downtown to Bennington College and possibly to North Bennington) - Walloomsac Valley Path - Rail/Trail and Ninja Path to be subsumed by this name. (NOTE: The Riverwalk will be included as part of the Walloomsac Valley Path, but the Riverwalk's identity will be preserved in some manner and referred to as the Riverwalk. The entire north-south path will be identified with prominent signs as the Walloomsac Valley Path.) 
  • Kocher Drive and East Road paths - Willow Park Path.
  • Orchard Village/Willowbrook/Molly Stark School path - Molly Stark Path.

Criteria for Pathway Naming
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.
Possible Pathway Names
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.

Next Steps
Now that the public comment period is done and the responses shared with the committee, the committee provided a final report to the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission will then use that report to develop a proposal for naming guidelines and criteria, as well as suggest possible name changes to existing paths. Once the proposal was completed, the Planning Commission will submitted the proposal to the Select Board for review and additional public comment. If you would like more information regarding this effort, please reach out to Dan Monks.