BENNINGTON -- The final report is back from the printers, but the process has only just started.
Following three public meetings, the introduction of community resources and the formation of four priorities and action groups, the Vermont Council on Rural Development's Community Visit to Bennington has culminated in a report and action plan, recently released and made available at the Bennington town offices and online.
For the local community chair of the VCRD program, Michael Brady, the report signifies the next step where Bennington residents take over the reins.
"It's a hand-off to the community," said Brady, of the released report. Split between four independent action groups, Brady said each formed committee had more than 20 members volunteer to work toward the group's goals. With each committee meeting for only the second time later this month, each group "captain" will reconvene in August. "The VCRD will always be there for support," said Brady. "People are available for us," including representatives from state, federal, nonprofit, and private resources who visited Bennington in May. But the report represents the final portion of VCRD's three-month visit to Bennington.
Now, local residents will work toward the four priority projects selected through the process, which began March 15 and involved more than 400 residents by organizers' tallies. The program continued in April when an initial list of opportunities was whittled down to four task forces.
In May, residents met with a second visiting team organized by VCRD, which resulted in concrete work plans for the four task forces including the following: * Advance a Bennington community center and improve the recreation center
* Develop a Bennington vision statement and advance community communications and positive town image
* Collaborate to address area poverty and build a poverty working group
* Make downtown Bennington a destination and build a new Bennington town green
The VCRD report and action plan, released last month, is available at the town offices at 205 South St., or online by visiting vtrural.org/webfm_send/589.