White River Valley towns planning forums on shared future

Published: 1/31/2019 2:31:21 PM
Modified: 1/31/2019 2:31:26 PM

SOUTH ROYALTON — The four White River Valley towns that were at the heart of the proposed NewVistas development are holding community forums on their future in the coming months.

Royalton, Strafford, Sharon and Tunbridge are working with the Vermont Council on Rural Development in conducting the forums, which will cover such topics as affordable housing, recreation and the environment, and education.

A Feb. 21 forum at the White River Valley High School in South Royalton will cover economic and cultural vitality and affordable housing and senior living.

On March 14 at Tunbridge Central School, the forum will cover attracting and supporting young families and residents, and agriculture and forestry.

A March 21 forum at Barrett Memorial Hall in South Strafford will include discussions on infrastructure, municipal partnerships, and recreation, trails environment and natural resources.

And a March 28 forum at Sharon Elementary School will discuss education and issues of poverty.

All of the forums include a free community dinner and start at 6 p.m.

Utah engineer David Hall in recent years bought 1,500 acres of land in the four towns, near the birthplace of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, and hoped to build a sustainable community known as NewVistas. But he abandoned his plans in Vermont  in June amid growing local, and some national, opposition to his efforts.

The “4-Town Future” forums planned by the VCRD, a Montpelier-based nonprofit that helps small towns around the state plan and collaborate, are intended to help the White River towns develop their own vision for the future.

“This is the first step in a process of building collective regional priorities and addressing critical challenges,” the VCRD said on its Facebook page.

Posted at 2:30 p.m. Thursday. See an upcoming Valley News for a full story.

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