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Cambridge Community Action Plan to Be Developed on December 1

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2014-11-23

The Vermont Council on Rural Development will hold its last major sessions in the Cambridge Community Visit process on December 1st; all residents of the town are welcome to help line up action plans to move priority projects forward.

On October 27th 150 Cambridge residents came together to set core priorities for future action in town. They reviewed 14 ideas that were gathered from focus forums at the Cambridge Community Visit Day in September, and chose priorities designed to boost the community and advance the town’s economy into the future. At the end of the session, over 60 people signed up as volunteers to advance these new initiatives.

On December 1st, these new task forces will meet in the school gym to frame out work plans and line up connections for resources that can help them succeed.

The core priorities include:

  • The Senior Living Task Force will evaluate opportunities to build a senior living center and expand services, consider sites, and partner to work to attract a developer to build senior housing that allows folks to age in place, stay connected to the community, and maintain a high quality of life without leaving town.
  • A task force of community non-profit and municipal leaders will team up to consider how they can work together to Advance a Cambridge Community Center.
  • A Community Capacity Task Force will frame a proposal to advance community capacity to expand communications and efficiency for community and economic development and provide an umbrella for working committees to help them succeed in the future.
  • A Task Force to Evaluate Municipal Structure will work with leaders from each municipality to consider a potential framework to increase efficiency and better serve the community.

All members of the Cambridge Community are invited to participate in this third phase of the Vermont Council on Rural Development’s (VCRD) Community Visit to the Town of Cambridge. The meeting will be held on Monday, December 1st from 6:30 – 9:00pm at the Cambridge Elementary School Gymnasium,

The Vermont Council on Rural Development is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to advancing rural Vermont communities. For more information, contact Margaret at 802-223-6091 or info@vtrural.org or go to: http://vtrural.org/programs/Community-Visits.

Cambridge Community Meeting
December 1, 2014
Cambridge Elementary School Gymnasium

6:30 – 9:00 pm

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Here's some background and more detail:

On October 27th over 100 Cambridge community members gathered in a community meeting to consider the ideas that were discussed through the Cambridge 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 the community had put on the table at the public forums on September 30th and school forums on September 25th. Participants discussed what was most important and most needed and voted on the priorities that they thought the community should line up to accomplish. Then, a number of folks signed up to serve on Task Forces to move these issues forward over the course of the next year. The top 4 priorities that participants chose are listed below.

Cambridge Community Visit Priorities Determined by Cambridge community members at the VCRD Community Meeting, October 27th 2014.

Advance a Cambridge Community Center

The Community Visiting Team of leaders who participated in all the Cambridge forums heard a resounding call from residents for a development to serve as community center for the community. They heard a great deal of public interest and support for the potential for a community center at the Windridge site, but they also heard significant challenges around the current stage of its development. Many residents wonder how the town connects to the development: Is it a municipal community center with public participation and some public funding, or a private venture without public input, non-profit leadership or an ownership interest? This uncertainty leads to a sense of confusion that could slow the full success of the project.

A task force of community non-profit and municipal leaders could team up to consider elements they would envision for the future of a Community Center, identify potential public, private, and philanthropic funding sources, and work with the developers of the Windridge site to build positive communications, take public input, and, ultimately, work together in a public/private partnership to optimize the development of a community center for all parties.

Plan and Develop a Senior Living Center and Expand Senior Services

Cambridge residents see the need for more senior living apartments in town and especially for a development that includes assisted living and opportunities for graduated support for people as they age. Cambridge has a strong and growing senior population, and, with its character and beauty, it can be a wonderful place for retirement. A Senior Living Task Force could evaluate data and the market, consider sites, and partner to work to attract a developer to build senior housing that allows folks to age in place, stay connected to the community, and maintain a high quality of life without leaving town.

Seniors also need help with issues ranging from rural isolation, to shoveling snow or getting into town. A Task Force could plan ways to expand senior day services in the community and work to expand support for seniors by rallying volunteers to check on neighbors, shovel snow, provide rides or deliveries, and help folks maintain their independence and dignity. Young volunteers could be a key to such an effort with collaborative support from churches in town.

Expand Communications, Capacity, and Efficiency for Community and Economic Development

Cambridge has committed citizens, great initiative teams, wonderful volunteers, and strong town and village leadership. There are several community groups working to support the arts, commerce and economic development, along with the library, historical society, school and afterschool, and a number of other efforts. Lacking a Town Manager, Town Administrator or Community and Economic Development staffing, however, Cambridge Town and its villages do not have the personnel or capacity to provide coordination between all the working groups or to systematically support and advance all the wonderful volunteer efforts underway. Cambridge lacks an umbrella to unite efforts and help them succeed. Without this communications and support capacity, the town has limited ability to advance an economic development strategy, compete effectively with other communities for limited state and federal development grant dollars, or unite the great human capacity of the town to complete projects that would create jobs and significantly advance the well-being of the community. A Community Capacity Task Force could frame a proposal to advance community capacity for the Select Board, Trustees and voters of Cambridge to consider.

Evaluate Municipal Structure

Cambridge has great leadership in its Select Board and the Trustees from each of the Villages as well as from a strong Town Clerk’s office. Some residents believe that with changing times the town should examine the structure of the municipalities and their separate functions to consider if there are duplications, inefficiencies, or more unified ways to provide effective municipal functions. A task force could form to lead this evaluation and to work with leaders from each municipality to consider a potential framework to increase efficiency and better serve the community.