Thunder in the Vicinity
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Public input is needed to help chart the course for the future of Waitsfield and Warren Villages.
Waitsfield Village and Warren Village are among seven of the downtowns/villages affected by Tropical Storm Irene that are the focus of action-oriented planning projects focused on strengthening their identity and economic vitality.
Directed by the VT Downtown Program, the project provides professional services in long-range strategic economic development planning and strategies for targeted flood resilience work between summer 2013 and early-winter 2014.
The Mad River Valley Planning District is serving as the primary contact for the project, with input and feedback provided by an advisory committee within each community. The advisory group represents businesses, property owners, the municipality, Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce and Waitsfield Elementary School.
The project's Vermont Downtown Action Team (V-DAT) visited the Mad River Valley in early June to undertake a community visit and assessment. The team met with The Valley's Warren and Waitsfield advisory committees and prioritized significant needs to be addressed by a master plan.
The Vermont Downtown Action Team will be back in The Valley next week, working with the advisory committees and also holding several important public meetings to gather and present public input in each town.
Utilizing a design charrette process, the consultant team will be available to meet with property owners, community members and staff engaged in economic development, government leaders and other community stakeholders in order to develop four specific items focused on strengthening each village's identity and economic vitality.
In Waitsfield the public is invited to a public input meeting on Tuesday, October 15, starting at 7 p.m. at Waitsfield United Church. On Friday, October 18, the consultants with the team will hold their final presentation, also at the church at 1:30 p.m.
In Warren, the public is invited to a public input meeting on Tuesday, October 15, at 5 p.m. at the Warren Town Hall with the final presentation slated for Friday, October 18, at 11 a.m.
The V-DAT teams, when in The Valley this summer, identified the following issues to be addressed (among others) in Waitsfield.
1. Downtown Master Plan that identifies the following: infill opportunities, streetscape where necessary, traffic calming options, connectivity to the river, links between downtown and adjacent neighborhoods and Irasville, opportunities for parks and recreation and site for workforce housing.
2. Wayfinding Plan directing visitors from the interstate/US2 into downtown and once in the village to major attractions and parking resources.
3. Branding for Waitsfield to be used independently of Sugarbush.
4. Enhance the Mad River Path concept.
In Warren the V-DAT team identified the following issues (among others) for discussion:
1. Create Village Center Plan vignettes that identify the following: infill opportunities, configuration of a potential village green along with civic buildings in the community, traffic calming options, streetscape and pedestrian connectivity (connecting residential neighborhoods to village and school).
2. Pattern book to maintain community character.
3. Business consultation and strategy to address workforce housing and co-work spaces while maintaining town character.
"Public participation is key to turning the four focus areas into reality. As the adage goes, 'You get out what you put in,'" said Joshua Schwartz of the Mad River Valley Planning District.
He also said that in addition to the public meetings there are other opportunities in each village for property and business owners to meet with the consultants. In Waitsfield, the V-DAT team
is providing three additional opportunities for property owners and/or merchants.
1. Free architectural and design services are available for one-on-one consultations with up to eight property owners. The services are at the disposal of the property owner but can include design recommendations and renderings to enhance the appearance of one's property (such as façade improvements).
2. A highly acclaimed business consultant will have two slots available for one-on-one consultation for businesses owners looking for customer-centered strategies and solutions.
3. Participation in a zip-code survey for retail establishments.
In Warren, the V-DAT is providing two additional services for property owners and/or merchants.
1. Free architectural and design services for one-on-one consultations with up to four property owners. The services are at the disposal of the property owner but can include design recommendations and renderings to enhance the appearance of one's property (such as façade improvements).
2. Participation in a zip-code survey for retail establishments.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for the village of Waitsfield and the Mad River Valley as a whole. Please share this information far and wide. Broad and deep community participation is key to the project's success," Schwartz added.
To participate in one of the additional services meetings in either town, contact Schwartz at 496-7173.