Editorial: Time to show up and speak out in Vergennes

Vergennes residents have an exciting opportunity this coming Friday and Saturday to provide input on the future look of the downtown and how it connects with the Otter Creek basin. As part of a $87,000 grant-supported project, residents will witness how pedestrian and bike lanes would flow onto Main Street (Route 22A) and create a bike-friendly downtown, as well as make the traffic through town less imposing.
It’s all part of what city officials are calling the Vergennes Downtown-Basin Master Plan, which is intended to improve the city’s economy and make the city friendlier for bicyclists and pedestrians for visitors and locals alike.
“(It) improves the community from a walkability and pedestrian safety standpoint,” said City Manager Mel Hawley.
Residents will be asked to identify economic barriers to the downtown, what they would like to see in the basin area, and how to better connect the basin area to the downtown. Not everyone is on the same page, Hawley noted in today’s story. “There are certainly people who feel it (the basin) should be left in a more natural state, and others feel it should be more developed.”
The city should be applauded for its forward thinking on the issue, getting the grant and establishing a weekend for public discussion and feedback. Making all of our larger towns and cities more pedestrian and bike friendly is key to their vibrancy and ability to attract today’s younger generation; it’s an effort that should be duplicated in Bristol, Brandon and Middlebury. Walks in downtown Vergennes start on Friday and continue from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday. If you want a voice in the future of the basin and the city’s downtown, this weekend is the time to show up and speak out.
Angelo S. Lynn

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