Wilmington revitalization: Selectboard offers matching funds

Friday May 10, 2013

WILMINGTON -- The Selectboard was given a report that encouraged restoring vibrancy in the downtown village.

"At first, I was depressed reading the first page, then I was scared," said Wilmington Selectboard member Jake White. "Then I was impressed with the numbers you presented. So yes, I'm on board."

On May 8, the rest of the board agreed to match funds from the Wilmington Fund to support a venture from the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce. The Selectboard put up $5,000, taking the money out of matching grant line in the town's budget.

"There's lot of ideas out there," said Chamber Executive Director Adam Grinold. "I think we can really funnel all these ideas to create some vibrancy."

The numbers in the report showed sewer flow, which has been steadily declining since 2000. The population also declined by 16 percent.

"Following the (Tropical Storm Irene) flood, the frequent patrons of Wilmington's village have been trained that they need not bother to come to the village. This can be documented by the continued drop in sewer flow and that of rooms, meals and alcohol receipts," stated the chamber document, which went on to say that Dover second homeowners have learned they can stay in Dover to eat. "Worse yet is that area lodging establishments and many other referring bodies have virtually stopped recommending Wilmington as a place to go to eat at night."

The document states that with the downtown designation Wilmington Works coming to fruition, the programs which the chamber wants to initiate need to be launched immediately.

"This funding will provide for an enhanced business climate that will help those already in business as well as ensure Wilmington village remains the economic and cultural center for the valley," the document said.

Grinold reiterated another point at the Selectboard meeting. He said that with these programs he's proposing, another business or two may start as a result of the chamber's work.

The funding Grinold requested would go towards offering an award for a new logo and tag line contest, a photograph contest to gather high quality images of the village, a program to establish an e-mail list for all second homeowners in the valley, a direct mail and e-mail campaign for the summer to highlight unique attributes of the Wilmington downtown village, advertising, a banner program for the roads and various events.

The "Urgency of Now" budget included banners, graphic design work, e-mail list build out, web mail services, Facebook advertising, Deerfield Valley News advertisements, Village Weekly Attractions, United States flags, signage and management costs.

The Village Weekly Attractions "will be small, often interactive events in the village," the chamber document stated. "Examples may be a juggler, a magician, a comedian, a story teller or even a fire swallower."

Wilmington Selectboard Chairwoman Meg Streeter asked Town Manager Scott Murphy if there were enough funds to cover the requested amount. He said there was more money in the account than the board would take from for this venture.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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