A rainy Wednesday in March brings to mind the memory of orange, chocolate-chip scones.
This would be just the day to sit a spell at the counter at Sweeties on Route 9 in Marlboro–sipping a latte, taking in the aroma of bacon, the morning conversations, the ebb and flow of townspeople and tourists beginning their day
Sweeties has been closed now for a handful of years and we’ve all grown accustomed to having to leave town for gas or a six-pack, but the absence lingers like a loved one, and sometimes rises like an ache, particularly in wintry months or on rainy days like today.
“After the General Store, comes the Post Office,” says a neighbor. “Then the school.”
Marlboro School was at the center of last week’s Pre-Town Meeting in response to Act 46 which seeks to consolidate school governance.
“Forced, short-sighted, rushed through legislation,” is how one woman described it.
A discussion of the unintended consequences of Act 46 ensues; and I’m surprised by a consideration that hadn’t occurred to me until then, and how deeply it shakes me–not the loss of our precious Junior High, or the loss of our vibrant voice; or how these losses will reshape our school, and our town; but something that strikes at the center of self-governance:
I know not everyone can make it on the first Tuesday in March, and I know that efforts in other towns to shift the meeting to an evening or a weekend haven’t produced the desired results; But our old Town House fills up with body heat and breath and voice and community, and that’s something.
And even in the years when you’re not in a chair or on a bench or at that front table or up at the podium, the gathering holds space for who we are and how we live and what happens here, not just in Marlboro, but all over the Green Mountain state, and even across our nation, as Bernie proved to be true.
Sure Town Meeting would continue for awhile; the old timers here are hearty like that; but the absence of the school budget–ie. the absence of children at the heart of decision making–would hollow out the gathering, until it became a dusty relic of itself.
Just before our Pre-Town Meeting closes, a follow up question about our “Geographically Isolated” and “Structurally Isolated” school comes from the floor:
“If we find that it doesn’t work for our town, can we go back to what we had?”
The response sends a chill through my body, particularly this year:
“Once you take it apart, you can’t build it again.”
This is a great opportunity to be part of the future planning for the town.
PLEASE COME TO BE A PART OF WHAT’S NEXT!
AND BRING A FRIEND OR NEIGHBOR WHO MAYBE MISSED THE FIRST 2 MEETINGS.
To Residents of Marlboro, Vermont
Come to the next meeting in the Community Visit process on Monday, May 24th from 6:30 to 9:00 at the Marlboro Elementary School. We’ll be looking at these 3 priorities:
– Develop a Marlboro Community Center Building
– Improve Walk-ability and Expand Bike & Walking Paths
– Generate Energy (Note that a meeting around the topic to “Advance New Zoning Bylaws to Include All Species” will be organized by VCRD and the Marlboro Planning Commission this coming fall)
VCRD will bring a new “Visiting Team” of state, federal, regional and non-profit leaders to Marlboro to develop task force work plans with action steps and resource lists that will help the town move forward.
Forrest Holzapfel, Marlboro Community Visit Chair
Paul Costello, VCRD Executive Director
Here’s some background and more detail:
On April 29th over 100 Marlboro residents gathered in a community meeting to consider the ideas that were discussed through the Marlboro Community Visit process and to set priorities for action.
At the meeting, the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) presented a list of all the key directions that residents had put on the table at the public forums on March 25th.
Following discussion, the top 2 priorities from the vote that night are those listed above. Community members also identified 2 ongoing priorities that need some fresh energy and they are also listed.
“A vision without a plan is just a dream. A plan without a vision is just drudgery. But a vision with a plan can change the world.” (Proverb)
“We shape our buildings, then our buildings shape us.”
— Winston Churchill
Marlboro Priorities: Develop a Marlboro Community Center Building Residents could create a stronger sense of Marlboro and improve the connections with others in the community by building or adapting a facility to serve as a unifying Marlboro Community Center. Features of such a center could include programs and activities ranging from meeting rooms and senior services to a gym, tourist information and WiFi center, library and reading room, entertainment space, parent/children playgroup room, community kitchen, teen center, café, or even a pub. Provision for parking and connection by trails to neighborhoods, the college, and other center points will be crucial to success. A Community Center Task Force could evaluate existing buildings and opportunities (like the Skyline Restaurant) and work with other groups in town to design a structure for multiple community activities, from country dances to social service meetings, movies or senior meals.
Task Force Signups So Far: Sally Andrews
Will and Paula Fielding
Improve Walk-ability and Expand Bike and Walking Paths Bike and walking paths can contribute to community interconnection, public health and community sustainability. A multi-use path from the school to the Town Offices, for example, could lessen the need for short car trips. A committee of Marlboro residents could look at the model developed by Kingdom Trails in the Northeast Kingdom for biking, walking and ski trails either for in-town personal transportation or to develop recreational assets for tourists and residents alike. The task force could map existing trails at the college and other community center-points, link them, map them, and encourage their use as ways to get around town, get exercise, and lower the number of regular car trips.
Task Force Signups So Far: Gail MacArthur
In addition, Marlboro residents wanted to strengthen two existing efforts by bringing in new volunteers and building momentum to:
Generate Energy Marlboro’s well established Energy Committee has led significant efforts to expand efficiencies in buildings throughout the community. But more mutual public education is needed to expand efficiencies and to inform the public about the potentials to cost effectively produce energy. Marlboro should adopt a vision to make itself the “Distributed Energy Capitol of Vermont” and then implement it by systematically expanding the number of households, businesses, and public buildings that generate the power that they use and contribute to the community’s energy needs. Toward that end, Marlboro residents should: explore the implementation of a local PACE program (Property Assessed Clean Energy) to support residents’ decisions to advance energy and efficiency projects; explore possibilities to build micro hydro sites in the town’s watersheds, evaluate the potential for a community wind project or extensive small scale wind development, and systematically expand solar panels to near ubiquity on houses in the community. Residents would like to see a Task Force raise the flag around a Marlboro identity as a state leader in energy creation and sustainability.
Task Force Signups So Far: Peter Mauss
Advance New Zoning By-Laws to Include All Species A meeting to move this priority forward will be organized by VCRD and the planning commission this coming fall and so won’t be on the agenda on the 24th.
Marlboro has an opportunity to plan for and build zoning to support long term strategic goals of creating a village district and advancing conservation. Marlboro should adjust its town plan over time and develop new zoning ordinances to protect moose and bear corridors, to focus development density in a village area yet to be designed, and to preserve the rural nature of the town. Residents suggest that those working on this should consider density development on RT 9 and between RT 9 and the College as potential village center. Some suggest defining a limited area for commercial development on Route 9, and place for senior housing and for affordable housing for young families as part of focused development to build the village center.
Note: If you can’t make it Monday evening, you can follow the meeting LIVE on Twitter with the hashtag #VCRD or follow @kellysalasin. Or you can return to this blog and follow the LIVE Twitter feed on the side bar or check back for the complete highlight post afterward.
Close to a hundred Marlborians gathered last night for Part II of the Community Meeting Process with Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD). Below you can find the Live Twitter coverage of the event (in a 140 characters or less)–including a link to the results of the town vote for the top two community priorities.
Don’t forget to mark your calenders for the last gathering of this three-part series slated for Monday, May 24. VCRD will return with a resource team specifically organized to support the goals set by our town.
“There is no power greater than a community
discovering what it cares about.”
Now that we know what matters to us as a community, it’s time to come together to make it happen. Let’s have some fun! (PS. Don’t tell the little one, but a town pub was high on the priority list for most community members.)
Paul Bruhn, Executive Director, Preservation Trust of Vermont
Patricia Coates, State Director, Congressman Peter Welch Office
Paul Costello, Executive Director, Vermont Council on Rural Development
Steve Gold, Deputy Secretary, Agency of Administration (Retired)
Julie Jacques, County Director, Farm Service Agency
Jeff Lewis, Executive Director, Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation
Larry Mandell, Founder, Woodbury College
James Matteau, Executive Director, Windham Regional Commission
Johanna Miller, Co‐Chair, Vermont Climate Action Network
Max Muise, USDA Rural Development
Tom Murray, Executive Director, Vermont Telecom Authority
Jenny Nelson, Policy Advisor, Office of Senator Bernie Sanders
Nancy Owens, Executive Director, Housing Vermont
Bob Paquin, State Director, Farm Service Agency
Julian Portilla, Program Director, Mediation & Applied Conflict Studies, Champlain College
Chuck Ross, State Director, Senator Patrick Leahy Office
Will Sawyer, Program Manager, UVM Center for Rural Studies
Ryan Torres, Philanthropic Advisor, Vermont Community Foundation
For more information, contact Margaret at 802‐223‐6091 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the three month process, towns create local goals and action plans and are assisted by a Visiting Team who brings state and regional expertise and resources to the table. These state and regional experts will be on hand as active listeners as community members from Marlboro share their challenges, inspirations and current work ongoing in town.