The Vermont Council on Rural Development will hold its last major session in the Brighton Community Visit process on December 8th; all residents of the town are welcome to help line up action plans to move priority projects forward.
On November 4th over 100 Brighton residents came together to set core priorities for future action in town. They reviewed 17 ideas that were gathered from focus forums in October with residents at the Brighton Community Visit Day and with students at the youth forum, and chose priorities designed to boost the community and advance the town’s economy into the future. At the end of the session, participants signed up as volunteers to advance these new initiatives.
On December 8th, these new task forces will meet in the Brighton Town Hall at 49 Mill Street in Island Pond 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. So far, members of the Resource Team will include: Ben Doyle (USDA Rural Development), Richard Amore (VT Department of Housing and Community Development), Karen Geraghty (Northeastern VT Development Association), Betsy Terry (VT Recreation and Parks Association), and Tim Tierney (Kingdom Trails).
Brighton Community Visit Chairperson Doug Niles says “The Community Visit process has been an excellent opportunity for Brighton to figure out what is important to us and what we should be working towards. Now it is time to take these big ideas and turn them into actionable plans. I am so excited for us to be able have the Resource Team help us with this process, and show us how we can turn these great ideas into reality. We have a great group of people who have signed up for the task forces at this time, and I would like to invite others to join as well. If we continue to come together, and work together as a community, I believe that we can make great things happen in the town of Brighton.”
The core priorities include:
- A Recreation task force will evaluate strategies to expand recreation and trails opportunities and perhaps hire a recreation coordinator for Brighton.
- A task force will work to Make Brighton an ATV Destination.
- Another task force will work to Support Business Growth and Economic Development.
- A Downtown task force will work together to enhance and revitalize Island Pond’s downtown.
All members of the Brighton Community are invited to participate in this third phase of the Vermont Council on Rural Development’s (VCRD) Community Visit to the Town of Brighton. The meeting will be held on Thursday December 8th from 6:30 – 9:00pm at the Brighton Town Hall at 49 Mill St. in Island Pond.
The Vermont Council on Rural Development is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to advancing rural Vermont communities. For more information, contact Jenna at 802-225-6091 or firstname.lastname@example.org or go to: http://vtrural.org/programs/Community-Visits.
Brighton Resource Meeting
December 8th 2016
Brighton Town Hall
6:30 – 9:00 pm
Here’s more about the four priorities identified for action:
Open a Recreational Center and Expand Recreation Opportunities
Hardwick residents value their recreational, cultural, and educational assets including the Hardwick Trails, strong athletic programs, The Town House performance space, library programs, Hardwick First Friday events, Kids on the Move, Hardwick Little League, and others. However, residents would like to see recreation opportunities expanded and feel that the community, especially youth, seniors, and families, need a space in town where they can come together for recreational and learning opportunities that could include space for young people, computers, a pool table, scheduled activities for all ages, a bowling alley, arcade games, educational programs, and more. A Recreation Task Force could form to identify a location, secure funding, and build a multi-use Hardwick Community Recreation Center. The Task Force could also support and bolster the work of the existing recreation committee to expand recreational opportunities and offerings such as a summer youth theater program, a Hardwick Skate Park, community workshops and learning opportunities for all ages, community game nights, an artist-in-residence program, revitalization of the school ropes course and exercise course, multi-generational art programs, and more.
Advance a Brighton Recreation Program
Brighton residents of all ages share a fondness for the natural beauty of the region and the plethora of hiking, skiing, biking, hunting, fishing, and snowmobiling opportunities. The town also has quality recreational infrastructure including several public beaches, two campgrounds, a playground, basketball courts, ice skating rink, and a community gym in the Town Hall. Given all of these assets, residents feel a coordinated recreation program would help to better engage residents, especially youth, in accessing these resources and providing more opportunities for community gathering, recreation, and fun! A Brighton Recreation Task Force could form to implement recreation programming for all ages including dances, community events, sports and games, laser tag, movie nights, music programs, outdoor programming and more. The group could also work to expand outdoor recreation including trails, bikeways, mountain biking, and paths. Some residents are also interested in exploring the possibility of a Brighton skate park. The group could work with the Town to identify funding sources to hire a recreation coordinator to develop and administer these programs.
Revitalize and Beautify the Downtown
Brighton’s walkable downtown at the edge of beautiful Island Pond is a tremendous asset. Several local businesses, banks, a grocery store, and dining options as well as a town green, a playground, a place for live music, and even a skating rink in the winter all contribute to a vibrant downtown. But some say these assets are underutilized and point to vacant storefronts that are looking run-down. Residents feel that a coordinated effort is needed to improve and revitalize the downtown to better leverage and market these assets. A Downtown Task Force could form to work with community members and outside experts to develop a strategic plan and identify funding sources to enhance and beautify Island Pond’s downtown as well as build strategies in partnership with the municipal government toward the redevelopment of blighted properties. The group could focus on improvements in physical infrastructure such as sidewalks, water and sewer, as well as aesthetic features such as trees, flower plantings, or showcasing local artwork. The group could work to make the downtown vibrant and dynamic for residents, as well as branding and marketing efforts to attract visitors and new businesses.
Make Brighton an ATV Destination
Many Brighton residents are interested in expanding their existing network of ATV trails to improve recreation for residents, attract visitors to town, and expand economic opportunities. The tri-county ATV Club is already hard at work to build connections with surrounding networks in Vermont and New Hampshire, maintain existing trails, and explore opportunities for expansion. A task force of community members could lend support to, strengthen, and work with the ATV Club in developing and improving the ATV trail network, in an environmentally and community conscious way, to make Brighton a premier ATV destination and model for Vermont.
Support Business Growth and Economic Development
Brighton is a town with several key economic assets including a scenic location, proximity to year-round outdoor recreation opportunities, a quality school, two campgrounds, Sweet Tree Maple, rail and air access, an active Chamber of Commerce, and a walkable downtown with a variety of local businesses. Residents would like to leverage those assets to grow their economy and find ways to enhance their downtown, boost commerce, and attract new residents and businesses. A new Task Force could develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to boost economic development in the town including identifying financing or tax credit opportunities for downtown businesses, attracting industry to the region to boost commerce and create jobs, and marketing to attract new and diverse businesses to town that will be attractive to both residents and visitors. It could also evaluate the opportunity to build a revolving loan fund to support building redevelopment, business start-ups, and growing enterprises in town. Some ideas residents shared for desirable new businesses include a kayak or outdoor retailer or rental businesses, industry or manufacturing, new and diverse dining options, a café, or a local brewery.