Town-Gown Project for Planned Development

This piece from the NYT caught my eye.  Lewisburg is similar in some ways, although bigger.  Kelly township is already up and running as sprawl-driven growth.  The whole county, Union, is involved in a planning process, called cultivating community.  There are some draft plans on the website.  How effectively can it redirect te built in infrastructure and private development?

The great quote here is the professor: “a synthesis of academics and civics.”

Maybe Bucknell has faculty or classes who could engage in similar research? Does the county need or want such help?

Vermont Town Turns to College in Bid to Guide Change –
Starksboro asked students from nearby Middlebury College to spend the semester interviewing its residents to document what they value most about the place. It intends to use their thoughts to influence decisions about its future.

In particular, officials here are counting on the project to help steer a revision of the town plan next year, a process that often leads to zoning-change proposals that incite bitter debate.

“The key is to project beyond immediate controversies over applications for subdivisions and to say, ‘Let’s envision the future that we would love to have,’ ” said Prof. John Elder of Middlebury, “at which point there is considerable agreement.”

The students are in a class called Portrait of a Vermont Town, which Professor Elder, who teaches it, described as a rare synthesis of academics and civics.


Filed under Bucknell, Government, pedagogy

3 responses to “Town-Gown Project for Planned Development

  1. Jim Buck Responds:
    Bucknell is already very heavily involved in development/planning most dramatically in the boro and less so in the twp and rest of the county. They own the Campus Theater. They just bought the bldg across the street from the theater and are planning to move the campus bookstore and admin offices downtown. They are a big partner in the Elm Street project, which has already resulted in a pretty nice (and expensive) upgrade to S 7th street and they are heavily involved in plans to transform S. 7th St.

    On the twp side, they are going to build a hotel/conf center in the parking lot across from Smith Hall — everybody thinks of this as the boro, but it’s actually twp land. As a supervisor, I’m very happy that the new hotel/conf center will be on the tax rolls rather than tax exempt like most univ bldgs.

    As part of the campus master plan, the BU gate on Rt 15 will be moved and upgraded aesthetically. The univ is working with the twp on a connecting trail across the BU fields, and the univ has reps on the rail-trail commitee and soon on the LARA board.

    The univ also sponsors a number of forums about smart growth that have been attended by local officials including, boro and twp elected officials, county planning people and SEDA-COG people.

    I think the univ has shown a lot of senstivity to the quality and character of the Lewisburg downtown and community in general — it has very good “selfish” reasons for doing so, because the vibrant downtown and amenties like the rail-trail will help them attract quality students, faculty and staff to this area.

    Working for Trey, I had the opportunity to travel widely through a 5-county area and while there are many beautiful landscapes and quaint towns, I can tell you that there is not anyplace that even holds a candle to what Lewisburg has. It’s a very very lucky community, but also one that has been smart in preserving it heritage and enhancing its quality of life with new amenities. And that process is ongoing.

    I saw an article yesterday saying value of Harvard’s endowment had dropped by 22%. I’m really crossing my fingers that BU can weather the current economic storm. The health of the univ is a key to the future of all of eastern Union County.

    My 2 cents,


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