ENOSBURG FALLS — The SE Group’s “Vital Village” plan nears completion as consultants focus on recommending next steps, or rather, first steps, to revitalize downtown Enosburg Falls.
The SE Group plans to present the finalized plans in the coming months, but consultants have already garnered enough community input to propose five top projects on which the village might focus once the plan is completed.
The SE Group has proposed multiple improvement projects, from streetscape enhancements to economic directives, in the past year, since the Village of Enosburg Falls received the state grant funding to hire consultants for the project.
According to a summary distributed to the steering committee overseeing the project, the SE Group has identified five projects consultants believe “would be good starting points for the Village because they have synergy with each other and potential to catalyze future projects.”
“While all of the contemplated alternatives,” which consultants presented at multiple public input sessions, “will be important for Enosburg Falls moving forward, we have chosen a variety of physical and non-physical projects that have a good mix of ‘low hanging fruit’ and more aspirational projects that are reasonably achievable in the next five years or so,” as stated in the summary.
The SE Group’s preliminary five projects are a unified community brand, streetscape improvements to the village’s central Main Street, promoting tourist-friendly businesses and Canadian tourism, a welcome center and the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail crossing.
SE Group consultants, namely planner Drew Pollak-Bruce, have explained each proposed project at prior meetings.
For an example of a unified community brand, think of the uniform signage in St. Albans City and the identifying maple leaf on those signs.
The SE Group has also presented branding examples from Waterbury — the outline of Vermont above the slogan “Uncommonly Vermont” — and from Colchester, where the signage is dominated by an image of a runner heading west, a bicyclist pedaling east and a sailboat out on the water.
The SE Group’s proposed central Main Street improvements are as follows: safer street crossings; curbside bump-outs; beautification, specifically landscaping; “attractive lighting” with Enosburg Falls banners, displaying the village’s proposed branding; protruding signage for businesses; outdoor seating for businesses; sustainable stormwater management and more bike parking.
The group’s proposal for a welcome center would incorporate the existing Enosburgh Historical Society museum at the village’s old freight depot on the aptly named Depot Street.
The welcome center would offer information about the village’s history, shops, restaurants, and the rail trail. Visitors could also visit the center just to use its restrooms or wireless Internet.
The SE Group said, in its presentation of the idea in a late February input session, that the welcome center could be a hub for rail trail visitors, given its proximity to the trail, and especially if the center featured maps, bike racks and a bicycle repair station.
The group proposed the welcome center be regularly open and mostly grant funded.
The SE Group’s proposal to improve the rail trail crossing, near the corner of Main and Depot streets, includes winter snowmobile parking, additional bike parking, canoe and kayak parking and a village information kiosk.
The SE Group said the proposal “integrates the Rail Trail with [the] Main Street streetscape and guides visitors to local businesses.”
The group’s last major public input session was the aforementioned February presentation, when Pollak-Bruce presented the group’s designs and proposals to roughly two dozen people in the Enosburgh Public Library.
After that presentation, attendees voted on which projects they most wanted to see realized.
A loose ranking of the top 10 projects attendees selected, per the SE Group, is wayfinding signage, branding, recreational and cultural events, streetscape improvements to Depot Street and Lincoln Park, promoting Canadian tourism, creating tourist-friendly businesses, streetscape improvements to central Main Street, promoting recreation offerings and constructing a welcome center.
The next public project gathering is May 2 at 6:30 p.m. The location is to be determined.
A $54,000 grant from the Better Connections program, a joint Vermont Agency of Transportation and Agency of Commerce and Community Development initiative, funded the hiring of a consulting firm to design a downtown redevelopment plan for the Village of Enosburg Falls.
The village was one of three Vermont communities awarded the grant in March 2018.
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