Lily Wujek ‘18
Have you ever wondered about that small, dilapidated building at the bottom of the hill, where Silk Road meets 67A? I spoke with Andy Schlatter—the new Associate Vice President for Facilities Management and Planning—to learn more about the status of the building and what the college hopes to do with it.
The school purchased the 7-acre plot of land the historic building sits on, not to renovate it for housing or office space, but to prevent development: no more car dealerships or strip malls in this key location. The building itself has no indoor plumbing or electricity and as Schlatter explained, “The cost to make that building habitable is not negligible.”
However, the property will soon see more pedestrian traffic with the construction of Bennington’s Ninja Path—a safe pedestrian and cyclist friendly footpath, essentially connecting North Bennington to Downtown Bennington. Part of the path winds through campus and the rest follows the Walloomsac River toward downtown.
Leading out from the front gate, the Silk Road property will be adjacent to the path. The ways in which the property could be used to engage cyclists and pedestrians are endless: perhaps an information center or a family-friendly park, or how about a cyclist saloon?
Why “Ninja”? The path has been the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center’s pet project for some time now, constantly being slipped into other initiatives in hopes of being passed—sneaky, unseen, ninja-like.
The construction of the first leg is scheduled to begin in May, from the front gate to Hannaford. The school has contributed funds and an easement to support this portion of the project. The town of Bennington has secured partial funds for the remainder of the path, and construction is scheduled to continue in 2018.
The Ninja Path offers a new way for the school to engage with the greater Bennington community, and vice versa, unlike anything we’ve had in the past. As Schlatter explained, “It’s really a huge development for us having a safe and pedestrian-friendly and cyclist-friendly way to connect the campus to Bennington proper.”