By Lisa Loomis

By state statute, all towns in Vermont must have a town plan that lays out the townspeople's visions, aspirations and plans.

The Mad River Valley Planning District, which serves Warren, Waitsfield and Fayston, is interested in identifying a vision for the entire Mad River Valley built upon what's in the individual town plans. In addition to the town plans, this Valley vision will be informed by previous valleywide initiatives and a new endeavor: The Mad River Valley Vision and Vitality Workshop Series.

Joshua Schwartz, executive director of the MRVPD, said that such a process would encompass many components of life in The Valley, such as infrastructure, recreation, environmental planning, quality of life, economic development and a look at what is important to people, what is working, what needs to work better and what the goals and visions are for each component.

As proposed, The Valley visioning process would also plug in what each of the 87 nonprofits and other organizations and entities in The Valley are doing, how they fit and how their work furthers the broader Mad River Valley vision, Schwartz said.

"And once we've looked at all the component parts and identified our goals and visions, then we can look at the vehicles we have to get there and ask ourselves if those are the right vehicles or whether we need different ones," he said.

To that end, Schwartz and some MRVPD steering committee members are continuing a collaboration that began last year when the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce partnered with the planning district to conduct an economic study and presented its results at a very well-attended economic summit in June.

The next collaboration will lead to a series of workshops on vision and vitality that will be held in 2015, designed to take a look at components of a Valleywide visioning exercise. Ultimately, the goal would be to use the workshops to inform the vision for The Valley going forward and then assess what steps are needed to take The Valley in the desired direction. That includes looking at what structures exist to make the shared vision a reality including considering whether different structures are required.

The Mad River Valley Planning District was created in 1985 by the towns of Fayston, Waitsfield and Warren. The purpose of the planning district is to "carry out a program of planning for the future of the Mad River Valley. The planning program shall be directed toward the physical, social, economic, fiscal, environmental, cultural and aesthetic well-being of the member towns and its inhabitants." The creation of the MRVPD was spurred by the planned expansion of Sugarbush.