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Rockingham Community Action Plan to Be Developed on February 13

The Vermont Council on Rural Development will hold its last major session in the Let's Take Action Rockingham Community Visit process on February 13th at the Bellows Falls Middle School; all Rockingham community members are welcome to help line up action plans to move priority projects forward.

On January 9th around 100 Rockingham community members came together to set core priorities for future action. They reviewed 26 ideas that were gathered from focus forums held in December, 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 February 13, 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:

-Build a Youth Center
-Advance Community Energy, Efficiency, and Resiliency
-Redevelop Bellows Falls Buildings

All members of the community are invited to participate in this third phase of the Vermont Council on Rural Development’s (VCRD) Community Visit to Rockingham.

Let's Take Action! Rockingham Resource Meeting
Wednesday, February 13, 2020
6:30 – 9:00 pm
Bellows Falls Middle School
15 School St, Bellows Falls

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

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Here’s more about the three priorities identified for action:

Build a Youth Center

Many Rockingham residents, especially youth, would like to see a space dedicated to youth gathering, leadership, and recreation. A youth-led and youth-centered community space would offer a safe and fun location to get together and an opportunity to empower youth to lead, create, and hang out. The center can be designed as a welcoming environment for youth, but also as a way to connect to the broader community through recreational activities such as mountain and road biking, kayaking, boxing, dancing, and more as well as connections to the arts, civic engagement, career opportunities, and more.

Advance Community Energy, Efficiency, and Resiliency   

A Climate and Energy task force could form to promote alternative energy, transportation, and efficiency options and to explore resiliency to a changing climate. This climate action group could develop a community solar project, install electric vehicle charging stations, and provide education and support to help residents explore and implement alternative energy and heating options, and boost opportunities for alternative transportation and electric vehicle charging. The group could also identify and implement strategies to boost opportunities in “green” careers by offering training in renewable energy and weatherization technicians, electricians, contractors, appraisers, and others.

Redevelop Bellows Falls Buildings

A task force could form to plan, fund, and implement projects to leverage public and private investment and engage community input to preserve, revitalize, or repurpose vacant or underutilized buildings. Potential priority buildings could include the Chemco or Liberty Mill building, Adams Grist Mill, the former YMCA Building, TLR Mill Buildings, the Moore and Thompson Lower Mill, the train station, and the Hotel Windham. Community members shared ideas for revitalization from craft markets and murals to a food coop, a youth or community center, a childcare center, or a hotel.