Again, the Town of Northfield is at a crossroads. In fact, at least three crossroads. Will we be up to it?
On Sept. 21 at 6 p.m. in the Brown Public Library Community Room, the Economic Development Committee will be looking at final drafts of economic development zones developed in the wake of flooding from tropical storm Irene.
While these proposals are focused in the vicinity of Northfield’s historic downtown, they have the potential to revitalize the entire community and are important to everyone. Public participation is welcome at this open meeting.
Earlier drafts of these proposals were on display July 19 at Northfield’s “Night on the Common.” If all goes as planned, the proposals will be on display after Sept. 21 in both the Municipal Building and the Community Room.
Also available for public comment will be plans for the Water Street River Park, also developed following the Irene flooding. While separate, the two proposals are mutually supportive, both contributing to downtown revitalization and community resilience. Funding for the Water Street River Park has been approved by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, and Friends of the Winooski River plan to seek additional state funds. Northfield High School alumni, spearheaded by Sally Nadon Pedley, have created a Trust Fund for the River Park to manage community contributions to the project. Walking tours of the site are scheduled for Labor Day, and more information is available at http://waterstreetriverpark.zohosites.com.
But, that is not the end of the “crossroads” story in Northfield. A committee co-chaired by Peter Evans of Northfield and Rama Schneider of Williamstown has voted to advance beyond the discussion stage and prepare a school district merger plan to be presented for consideration by the voters of Northfield and Williamstown at their separate Town Meetings in March, 2017.
Preparation of this school district merger plan has been undertaken in response to a state initiative to increase the size of school administrative districts in the state. But the focus within the committee has been consistently on using merger as an opportunity to expand educational opportunities while containing costs.
Three years ago we merged the Town and Village of Northfield, and that action turned out to be a major benefit to the Town. Two years ago, the merged town completed the Depot Square redevelopment begun by the Village.
Now we are approaching three more crossroads. Let’s give our attention to each of these proposals as they take shape and as we continue to move our town into what looks to me like a bright and rewarding future.