Some Collaboration Successes

Local residents vs. town officials over village revitalization

Relationships improved between residents and town officials. State Dept. of Transportation sponsored the collaborative planning process. Many new, unifying ideas in a master plan for revitalization.

In the village of Blairstown new ideas for a loopwalk to connect a well-traveled bike/walking trail on an old railroad bed to the shops in the village, past historic structures, over a river and past a waterfall, and across a state highway. Since they were planning to widen the highway, the State Dept. of Transportation was invited to participate in the modeling sessions. When they saw the collaboration and the vision, they contributed design and financial support for improving existing sidewalks, traffic calming at the same highway crossing, and entry kiosks to identify the historic village to highway travellers.

“We, the Main Street and Village Association, a small group of village residents and business owners, had been trying to work with regular road maps to create a vision plan. We had no particular idea of exactly what was where. Several studies had been done previously that had gone nowhere. Once we started the trust building and collaborative planning process, we came up with a specific direction, and we were able to prioritize the various steps. With the aerial photo we realized that we could create a loop walk that would tie the park and the downtown together and we could see where to plan the loop. By working in a roundtable, collaborative group, new ideas and discussions came about regarding buildings, businesses and the value of the loop to pedestrians.

When we went to the Township Committee with our ideas, we took our aerial photo and stood it upright. We could make concrete statements since we had done the planning three dimensionally placing the buildings and the park areas and color coding the entire concept. In 25 minutes, they were able to clearly understand our months of thought process. We started to really trust each other. From that presentation we have gained decided municipal cooperation in each direction the project has taken. We invited town officials to join in. They are a part of the whole process now, and they are as excited as we are in terms of our plan development. We have now received several grants to carry out our vision of connecting walkways, bikeways, and parks in the village, and we have several more grant opportunities. Things moved forward with this process where they hadn’t moved forward at all before.”

Gerry Manger, Mainstreet and Village Association and Realtor

“People in the community were interested in this process enough to come out, and really felt good about the vision plan we came up with. Collaborative planning allows the planning board and council to know and trust what the community wants. Then, they can take that vision and go forward. It’s the community’s vision; not their vision!”

Kara Quick, Village and Mainstreet Association