ECO-DEV Minutes

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Meeting Date: 
November 9, 2016

ECO Minutes

November 9, 2016

Present: Harry Dailey, Jennifer Beck, Jackie Kahle, Chris Devine, Dick Putnam, Mike McGonegal

Guests: Ivy Vann, Kermit Williams, Scott Butcher, Andre Garron

5:30 – Approved minutes.

Shark Tank grant update – we got through the first round and submitted additional information. They will use that to cull through the 14,000 submissions and create a shortlist of towns to visit. 

Surveys – we’re 1/3 of the way through. Andre Garron is taking a job in Salem and Bill and Sharon will be taking over the Wilton project.

We’ve got confirmation on the 3 initiatives as proposed and will align both short and long term projects so we can measure success against each.

Ivy Vann then presented her proposals and recommendations for an approach to public engagement and Strong Towns philosophies on parking, walkable urbanism and what makes a successful town center. She stressed that Wilton had great bones and we hadn’t created too many restrictive zoning ordinances yet. She recommended we look at an acre valuation analysis. This has nothing to do with tax assessments. It’s a study that looks at what the value of a parcel is based on revenue and cost to the town. It will help guide our decisions about what type of development is beneficial and what doesn’t make sense.  Mixed use buildings produce more revenue and less risk to future financials. Main Street is a great example of properties that can serve multiple purposes over time and are already depreciated.

Dick Putnam identified several additional pieces of land in downtown that could potentially be converted to support additional businesses. Attracting new businesses was something the town’s people voted in favor of on the exit polling the team did after the general election Nov. 8th. See vote board on page 5.

Communications – Jackie and Carissa reported on their success with the survey on preferred communications channels for staying updated on eco-dev projects. 273 people wanted to keep in touch. Another poll asked residents to vote for the one type of project they’d like to see the ECO-DEV team focus on for investments in the town. We wanted to get a quick cluster analysis of opinions. Expect to see more of these types of studies done on various topics from types of housing to sign designs to types of businesses. 

Over 500 people voted. A quick glance tells you that more businesses and downtown services as well as the river walk and concert gazebo are the types of things residents want to see as priority investments. We’re already pursuing the tourist train through auction houses and private sales and talking to NH DOT and Leishman who owns the Milford-Bennington Line. We had two residents volunteer to drive the train.

Conversations with hundreds of residents the day of voting revealed if there’s one thing residents all agree on, it’s keeping Wilton a small rural town. But can it be one that weathers the next economic storms and take full advantage of the next trends?

7:45 Adjourn