Amy Tomasso, community planner for the Mad River Valley Planning District, is sharing a series of question and answers about the work of the planning district and its priorities. Last week, the first in the series of four Q and As, she explained the tri-town planning district’s work on transporation and climate/energy. This week she’ll discuss rural resources, placemaking and recreation.



How does the planning district work with and on rural resources?

Tomasso: It’s important to know where we come from to know where we’re going, and it’s incumbent on us to identify, promote and safeguard The Valley’s historic and cultural heritage. This is the charge of the Mad River Valley Rural Resources Commission, (RRC), an advisory committee led by residents who are passionate about maintaining The Valley’s sense of place. The RRC, which is part of the National Park Service’s Certified Local Government program – a distinction that makes the RRC eligible for grant funding – was recently reconstituted in The Valley and is actively seeking new members. Current and future projects include an educational research project at the Boyce Hill Town Forest in Fayston, updating the Mad River Valley’s National Register of Historic Places Districts, and communicating the history of rural resources to the larger community.

What is placemaking and how does the planning district advance it?

Tomasso: Placemaking is the process of engaging the local community in creating public spaces accessible to all; that bring a sense of pride, vitality and identity to a place. You know placemaking when you see it: the Waitsfield Farmers Market, Lovett Park (on Bridge Street), and Warren’s Main Street improvements invite you to linger and interact with the people and places around you. Placemaking has benefits beyond just creating year-round public spaces: By encouraging walkable, multi-use destinations, this process can contribute to larger climate mitigation strategies while deeply supporting local economies and scales. Here in The Valley placemaking helps establish a consistent Valley-wide identity, and we are working on a few exciting projects to help bring spaces to life and foster a greater sense of community. These include applying for the Better Places and Downtown Transportation Fund grants through the VT Agency of Commerce & Community Development; planning a 2023 winter placemaking project to bring light to our darker months, and upgrading the Mad River Byway signage to maintain a unified wayfinding presence across our beautiful Valley.   

How about recreation? What is the planning district’s role in the recreation scene?

Tomasso: Recreation forms the backbone of The Valley’s economic well-being, and the planning district is committed to enhancing The Valley’s year-round recreational opportunities to bolster the four-season recreation economy. For the next year, the planning district is focused on disseminating recreation trail mapping efforts through the printed Mad River Valley Trail Map; working with our partners in the Mad River Valley Trails Collaborative; and protecting our recreation sites in the summer through stewardMRV. The Mad River Valley Recreation District was recently awarded a $409,000 VOREC grant to build a recreation hub, improve trail connectivity and increase stewardship efforts. MRVPD is proud to serve as one of the project partners working to bring this vision to life.

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