Vergennes seeks public input on civic projects

VERGENNES — Vergennes Partnership and city officials are looking for public input at a jointly sponsored Wednesday night Vergennes Opera House forum on a series of planned and potential recreation improvements around the city.
They are hoping for enough residents to attend the 7 p.m. gathering to have about a dozen sign up for each of four working groups devoted to specific issues, according to a partnership press release:
•  A toddler park. The park is currently in the design phase and is planned for a site next to the city pool. The group will be led by Alderman and city recreation committee member Joe Klopfenstein and park designer David Raphael. Officials hope to get ideas on the park’s design and potential play equipment.
•  Downtown pedestrian improvements. Planning commission head Shannon Haggett and Police Chief George Merkel will guide a discussion that will include work done by Middlebury College students and earlier recommendations from the Downtown Revitalization Plan for ideas and amenities that could include traffic-calming measures.
•  Possible improvements to make Vergennes a “bicycle-friendly community” and market the city as a bicycle destination. Greg Edwards and Doug Todd will head a session that will try to “brainstorm for amenities and (bike) access ideas.”
•  Basin Park improvements. A session headed by Mayor Bill Benton and public works head Jim Larrow will look at ways to improve access to and enjoyment of existing recreation areas along Otter Creek, and developing of new ones.
According to the press release, the goals of the two-hour forums are to “build relationships between organizations and groups. Identify recreation projects from the city plan to increase the standard of living and community well being of Vergennes residents. Focus on public improvements that can be accomplished in 2013 and 2014.”
Representatives of the Vergennes Development Review Board and Opera House, and City Manager Mel Hawley also plan to attend.
The agenda includes a half-hour of social time, refreshments and review of relevant visuals; 30 to 45 minutes for the group meetings; and 20 minutes for the groups to report back to the full gathering.
Officials hope to:
•  Determine priorities and financial feasibility.
•  Identify actual project leaders and helpers.
•  Create project time lines.
•  And identify funding sources.

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