WRC schedules village revitalization meeting


SAXTONS RIVER -- The Windham Regional Commission has scheduled the first of three expected meetings aimed at providing the community with technical support to assist in developing strategies for the village's revitalization.

A villagewide meeting is set to last from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Saxtons River Elementary School on April 28 and all residents are encouraged to attend. The meeting is part of work funded through an Economic Development Administration Disaster Recovery grant, which provides assistance for 20 villages in the jurisdictions of the Windham and Bennington County regional commissions. WRC Assistant Planner Kim Smith told the Reformer the 20 villages sustained significant damage from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

Smith said the work begins with developing a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis with members of the public. She said WRC will take the information from the analysis to start devising implementation strategies, which may include combining ideas or cherry-picking patterns they all share.

"It's community development and economic development. That's the basis of it," she said about the EDA grant and the meetings that come with it.

Smith told the Reformer that how the meetings are received by the public varies by community. She said WRC occasionally works directly with an economic development group, which usually consists of volunteers from the community, but oftentimes all concerned citizens are invited into the discussion.

She said WRC is working to do "the same type of thing" in Saxtons River that it has already done with Newfane Anew -- a volunteer organization dedicated to the community and economic revitalization of Newfane and its three villages -- as well as Jacksonville (Whitingham) and West Dover.

"We tailor (how support is provided) to the needs of the community," Smith said.

While the process is customized to the individual needs of a community, it generally involves two to three meetings to identify a town's existing assets and develop community-generated goals that will support community and economic development within the village. WRC will compile a document of strategies and possible funding sources to boost vibrancy and resiliency in Saxtons River.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.


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