WILMINGTON -- This week, town officials will welcome the firm Arnett and Muldrow Associates to assist with planning for the future of the community.
"They are here to revitalize," said Wilmington Economic Development Specialist Gretchen Havreluk. "They did a lot of work after (Hurricane) Katrina in Louisiana. That's really why they were hired. They have that experience with flood recovery. I have so much hope for this. It's so exciting."
The firm was hired as part of a grant drawing from Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds, secured by board members of the Vermont Downtown Program.
This year, Wilmington was accepted to be included in the Downtown Program. With a downtown designation, the town will receive benefits, which include access to other grants and programs like this.
The firm is considered the Vermont Downtown Action Team, which is scheduled to appear in town this week to assist with planning. It had previously worked with the downtown program group in Brattleboro. Wilmington is one of seven communities being assisted by the grant through the Agency of Commerce and Community Development's CDBG-DR funding.
On Sept. 11, there will be a public forum for the community to engage in the planning process. This community input session will start at 5 p.m. at Memorial Hall. Property owners are strongly encouraged to attend.
Then another meeting will be held on Friday at noon at Memorial Hall to go over what the firm proposes for planning.
"Arnett and Muldrow was created to help communities that want to rebuild their aging downtown, reinvigorate their historic neighborhoods and create economic development opportunities," the firm's website states. "We believe in the future of our small towns and cities and are passionate about helping communities realize their potential. We work hand in hand with communities to develop strategies that enhance economic opportunities while preserving the unique character that makes each city and town unique."
Havreluk told the Reformer that town officials are trying to get as many people to show up for the Wednesday meeting as possible. She said Friday will be a little more challenging because of the time slot.
After the community input session, the firm will be holding individual meetings with different groups in town. Its focus will be on market assessment, branding, marketing, design, planning and implementation strategies.
The firm will be establishing meetings with businesses for spaces that are still left open during the Wednesday meeting, Havreluk said.
"They're looking to meet with business owners, the Design Committee and the Planning Commission. All of those pieces," she added.
The firm will be focusing on things that go beyond the Conway School of Design's Village Master Plan, which is available through the town's website.
Havreluk said that Arnett and Muldrow will be looking at "the full scope of facades, how to help businesses and how to fill vacant buildings."
"The Design Committee of Wilmington Works is really taking hold of the Conway School plan," she said. "Arnett and Muldrow (will be looking at things) outside the downtown designation area, which we still need to figure out how it's going to be handled."
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.