East End Development Opportunities

By Sally Miller

For much of the last seven years, the Sustainable Woodstock East End Action Group (EEAG) has focused on the developing a riverfront park on the former “Jungle” property. With the relocation of the snow dump underway and park improvements ongoing, the EEAG has returned to their original goal of improving the East End. Starting in late 2015, they convened meetings with East End property owners and community stakeholders to re-visit the 2000 East End master plan. This year, with a $12,000 grant from the Woodstock Economic Development Commission, they hired real estate investment consultants White + Burke of Burlington to produce a comprehensive information package to help move forward development and pave the way for thoughtful and appropriate improvements that are compatible with local economic realities as well as community needs and desires.

The East End is an important gateway to the Town’s historic village and has tremendous potential for adaptive reuse of historic structures and construction of new projects. Its many attributes and opportunities to support new growth and investment include its location along busy US Route 4, available public infrastructure and utilities and frontage along the Ottauquechee River. This area was once home to a dozen commercial enterprises, but it has been an underutilized resource for decades. If properly developed, it is a potential source of economic vitality bringing Woodstock visitors and jobs and tax revenue, in addition to aesthetic improvements. The goal of the EEAG is to attract major investment to develop the area with highest and best use of properties rather than jumbled and incompatible piecemeal initiatives that have yet to be realized.

Viewed as a whole, the East End is complex. It comprises varied topography, historical land uses, and multiple land owners of disparate-sized parcels. In the past two decades, potential developers have been further deterred by a myriad of “unknowns” including zoning restrictions, easements, and environmental concerns. To address these complexities the East End Economic Opportunities document provides, in one convenient spot, information that will allow a potential investor/developer to more easily evaluate the functional and economic feasibility of a development project in the East End. It includes mapping of properties currently on the market, zoning constraints, traffic and utility data, historic resources and an environmental overview along with links to other resources.

Sarit Melmed-Werner from Plymouth Artisan Cheese talks about her experience with producing value added products in Vermont.

Sarit Melmed-Werner from Plymouth Artisan Cheese talks about her experience with producing value added products in Vermont.

The Town of Woodstock and Sustainable Woodstock are committed to working collaboratively with developers to find creative solutions to address any challenges that may be present or arise during the development process. The EEAG recently had a very successful launch party for the East End Development Opportunities package. The purpose of the evening was to give interested parties an opportunity to network and come away with new ideas. At four stations where local residents pitched their ideas for potential projects, a variety of options for development were explored. With over 40 people in attendance, the energy and excitement in the room demonstrated great community support for making positive change in the East End. The EEAG will follow up with making connections and providing other venues for input.

Mary MacVey, who has been a member of the East End Action Group from the start says, “The EEAG’s efforts to move the snow dump away from the river and create a park in its place have paid off doubly. Not only is there significant environmental benefit but also an economic boost: we’re seeing the greatest interest and activity in developing the East End in 20 years. Visible progress is exciting!”

Community input is an important aspect of the development process, and residents are encouraged to review the East End Economic Opportunities report on the Sustainable Woodstock website on our homepage. Additionally the EEAG will be convening several events to talk about possibilities. Our December Green Drinks will be the first public unveiling of the report. Join us at Mon Vert Café on Thursday, December 15 from 5:00 to 6:30pm for light refreshments and conversation. For more information contact the EEAG at eastend@sustainablewoodstock.org or 457-2911.

Just Do One Thing – Join the East End Action Group on Thursday, December 15 from 5:00 to 6:30pm at Mon Vert Café to explore the East End Development Opportunities report.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *