Alburgh officials plan to turn a 90-acre part of the town’s industrial park into a year-round recreation area, hoping it will be a boon for residents and attract new visitors to the nearby village centre.
Almost the entire tract off Industrial Park Road has been classified as a state protected wetland and not suitable for industrial development, said Emily Klofft, a regional planner with the Northwest Regional Planning Commission who works with the city.
That led officials to look at other land uses, Klofft said.
Alburgh received a municipal planning grant to develop a master plan for the area, she said, and officials heard ideas for the site from community members at a meeting on October 20. Planners also received about 150 responses to a survey about the project.
“Even though these are wetlands,” Klofft said, “because recreation and education are considered part of the values and functions of wetlands, some low-impact uses make sense.”
Some uses envisioned by planners include boardwalks, a tree house and a network of trails, she said. An existing rail trail, called the Alburgh Recreation Trail, runs along the parcel and could connect visitors to Lake Champlain.
Residents are also interested in bird watching on the site. Many said they would like a story walk there for children that could be changed with the seasons, said Alburgh Selectboard chair Josie Henry.
The city’s goals with the industrial park project are twofold, Henry said: to increase the recreational opportunities available in the city and to attract outside visitors.
“It’s a great opportunity to attract people to this area of the center of the village,” Klofft said, “and to encourage more businesses there.”
Currently, the village doesn’t have many businesses and there are no restaurants, Henry said. But that should change next spring when a cafe and bakery, as well as a pizzeria, are set to open.
‘I think if you talk to a resident of Alburgh and ask what their top priority is for something in the village, it would be a restaurant or a cafe,’ she said.
Looking ahead, Henry said she was optimistic about the project.
“We’re making progress on schedule,” she said, “and we’re gaining more momentum now that residents are seeing this falling into place.”