Vergennes set to gather again to hear suggestions
VERGENNES — The Vermont Council on Rural Development and local sponsors are inviting all members of the Vergennes community to participate next Wednesday in a community meeting to set a path for the future and put forth a short list of projects to advance the community.
On Wednesday, April 16, the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) will return to Vergennes for the second meeting in the Vergennes Community Visit process of engaging and bringing together community members to set common goals and directions in a neutral and facilitated structure, and then accessing resources that will help them take action on those goals.
The meeting, to be held 6:30–9 p.m. at the Vergennes Opera House, follows the initial session held on March 18, which drew over 100 community members and a visiting team of 25 representatives from state, federal, private, nonprofit, and philanthropic agencies.
At the kick-off session in March, participants shared their thoughts on topics of relevance in Vergennes including: municipal and nonprofit resources, tourism, recreation and entertainment, role of municipal government, basin and riverside development, connecting youth, transportation infrastructure and pedestrian safety, the future of economic development, and Vergennes Community Center.
The VCRD Community Visit process was invited to the town by the city council to help set community priorities for the future. Mayor Bill Benton is serving as Community Visit chairperson to coordinate work with committees over the next year. Benton was pleased with the participation in March, and hopes everyone — business people, retired folks, students and all community members — comes to the meeting on April 16.
“The Community Visit Day was all encompassing with the sharing of hundreds of ideas,” he said. “Our charge now is to identify and prioritize projects that our citizens support, are financially feasible and can soon be accomplished for the betterment of our community.”
The April 16 meeting will review the list of ideas generated at the first Visit day. VCRD will facilitate a discussion of those ideas, where members of the Vergennes community will consolidate, add to, and champion the list of opportunities; and, through dialog and dot-voting exercises, they will identify the top priorities to move forward in the coming year. The issues that are selected will become the focus of local task force groups that will be formed to move the priorities forward. In May, VCRD will return with a resource team of state, federal and nonprofit leaders for a final Visit session to help the new task forces build action plans and resource connections to advance the priority projects.
VCRD Executive Director Paul Costello believes “Vergennes residents have an excellent opportunity to help aim Vergennes in the right direction on a number of issues by attending the Community Meeting at the Opera House on April 16. The forums held in March produced some big bold ideas. Now this meeting will help residents set priorities for action. Active participation from town residents is essential in setting direction to best meet the needs of the town going forward. Everyone is invited! And everyone who comes is equal in the process, even if they missed last month’s meeting.”
According to Shannon Haggett, chair of the Vergennes Planning Commission, “The planning commission is excited that Vergennes has been selected for the Community Visit Program by the Vermont Council on Rural Development. The series of visits is a fantastic way for us to ascertain community sentiment on a variety of topics. We’re currently updating the city’s Municipal Development Plan and judging from the first visit, the Community Visit program provides a much greater audience than a planning workshop would garner for us. It is invaluable to our process to have an effective way to tap into public opinion, and the Community Visit program brings that. I would encourage anyone who wants to have a voice in the shaping of our community to attend the upcoming visits.”
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