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Wallingford community to set economic development future


WALLINGFORD— On April 26, all members of the Wallingford community are invited to kick off the Wallingford Community Visit process, an opportunity for residents to actively participate in examining issues, deciding their top priorities and developing concrete action plans for community and economic development.

The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) was invited by the town of Wallingford to facilitate the Community Visit process. VCRD is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the advancement of Vermont communities. In the past 20 years, they have worked with over 60 communities throughout Vermont to bring residents together through their facilitated and structured process to share ideas and move toward common solutions.

Jenna Koloski, VCRD’s community and policy manager said, “VCRD doesn’t know what is best for the town, or the priorities that will emerge. This process is all about local leadership and direction. What we do know is that when towns that line up behind concrete priorities, engage local energy and volunteers, and connect to key resources, it leads to momentum and success! Every town is unique and we are eager to learn more about Wallingford and the opportunities that the community identifies.”

This first step in the Community visit process will be Wallingford Community Visit Day, an opportunity to come together to discuss assets, challenges, and opportunities for action within six focus forums being held throughout the day.

The second step will be a community meeting in May when all residents will be invited to champion action ideas, set priorities, and have the option to sign up for task forces to take on each priority initiative.

The third step, in June, will be to host a Community Resource Day, with a visiting resource team of Vermont leaders to help support the work of the new task forces as they create action plans to move their priorities forward.

The Wallingford Community Visit Day will include professionally facilitated community discussions on six different topics and a free community dinner catered by Sal’s, with desserts prepared by a local high school student and music from local musicians. It will take place at the Wallingford Elementary School. Childcare will be available during the forums at the First Baptist Church.

Forum topics were decided by a town steering committee representing people from varied occupations and parts of town. The six topics they set include: community communications, events & celebrations; restoring historic buildings; Wallingford’s identity; economic development & infrastructure; recreation & natural resources; and Main Street.

A youth forum for Wallingford high school students was held on April 12th at Mill River Union High School. Students shared their ideas around assets, challenges, and key directions for the future. Their ideas will be integrated into ideas shared by the community to make sure voices of all ages are heard.

Wallingford resident Nan Dubin has stepped up to serve as the local chairperson of the Community Visit Process. She said, “What would you like to see Wallingford become?  Share that vision at the town-wide meetings, and stay for dinner! This is a unique opportunity to help plan Wallingford’s future, and we hope you will join us.”