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Our 4-Town Future Community Action Plan to Be Developed on May 21st

The Vermont Council on Rural Development will hold its last major session in the "Our 4-Town Future" Community Visit process on May 21st at the Sharon Academy High School; all community members are welcome to help line up action plans to move priority projects forward.

On April 25th around 90 community members from the 4 town region of Randolph, Sharon, Strafford and Tunbridge came together to set core priorities for future action. They reviewed 24 ideas that were gathered from focus forums held in February and March, and chose priorities designed to boost the communities and advance the economy of the region into the future. At the end of the session, participants signed up as volunteers to advance these new initiatives.

On May 21, these new task forces will meet to frame out action plans and work with a resource team of federal, state, business, and non-profit leaders to identify next steps and resources that can help them succeed. The new task force groups will work to:

-Develop Area Housing and Build a Senior Housing Community
-Support Economic Development in the Region
-Conserve Natural Resources and the Working Landscape and Create a Regional Agricultural Network

All community members of the 4 town region are invited to participate in this third phase of the Vermont Council on Rural Development’s (VCRD) "Our 4-Town Future" Community Visit. Childcare will be available!

Sharon Academy H.S.
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
6:30 – 9:00 pm
Sharon Academy H.S.
6704 VT Route 14, Sharon VT

The Vermont Council on Rural Development is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to advancing rural Vermont communities. For more information, visit http://vtrural.org/programs/Community-Visits.

Residents of the four towns selected three priorities for future action:

Develop Area Housing and Build a Senior Housing Community

A housing task force can assess current housing needs and explore options to increase new or renovated affordable housing for renters, homeowners, and seniors including co-housing, duplexes and apartments, and other multi-family units for mixed ages and incomes. This task force can also connect buyers and sellers or property owners and renters and offer support and resource connection to area residents looking to purchase, rent, or repair a home. Many expressed interest in capturing private investment and collaborating with regional, state, and federal partners to develop a senior housing development to serve the 4-town region; potentially located in Royalton for its infrastructure and access to services.

Support Economic Development in the Region   

An economic development committee can work to identify economic and business development needs and develop a plan, strategies, and funding opportunities to meet those needs. The group can collaborate with regional, state, and federal partners to attract businesses to the area, develop necessary infrastructure to support business growth, and develop a fund to support local businesses and provide incentives to do business in the region. The group can also help area residents connect to jobs by sharing opportunities and hosting job fairs to connect employers with potential local employees.

Conserve Natural Resources and the Working Landscape and Create a Regional Agricultural Network

Many residents would like to plan for the future by protecting valuable working lands and natural resources, addressing climate change, and improving resilience through local conservation efforts. A working lands task force can identify priorities for conservation and reforestation, build funding for conservation efforts, and look into opportunities around carbon sequestration markets, land adoption programs, and partnerships with foresters and farmers in the area to protect land while supporting the working landscape. In support of this work, the task force can create a regional network of area farms, connect new farmers to land and other resources, facilitate shared resources and equipment, and support production, storage, processing, marketing and distribution. The group can also identify and share funding sources and support for farmers transitioning to new products, diversifying their production, or shifting to organic farming practices and organize community work days to support area farms and increase market opportunities such as an annual market and farm celebration at the Tunbridge Fair. Additionally, the group can evaluate a central physical location to serve as a food hub for the region.

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