The Future of the Town

Last weekend we went to a “visioning” session to discuss the future development of the town. It was held at the brand new elementary school (which it was nice to get a chance to see) and drew about 30 people. We were not quite the youngest people there, but pretty close. There were facilitators who led us through a series of exercises and discussions to try to elicit input about the town’s strengths and challenges and who kind of changes we want to see in the next twenty years. It was a lot like a small-form town meeting. There were the usual annoyances: old grievances being played out, schisms between different populations and generations laid bare, everybody shilling for their own pet causes. But there were also the good things: getting to hear from people we don’t normally have contact with, meet some new neighbors, and hear different perspectives on common concerns. In the end, we seemed to arrive at a depressingly circular conclusion: we need more small businesses to thrive downtown, but that will require a big overhaul of the town’s water a sewage systems, which we can only pay for by expanding the commercial tax base, which can only happen if more small businesses move in downtown. If nothing else, at least I think the select board has a clearer picture now of what problems they have to try to solve.

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