Alburgh officials plan to turn a 90-acre part of the city’s industrial park into a year-round recreation area, hoping it will be an asset to residents and attract new visitors to the nearby village center.
Almost all of the plot off Industrial Park Road has been listed as a state protected wetland and is not suitable for industrial development, said Emily Klofft, regional planner with the North West Regional Planning Commission who works with the city.
This led officials to look at other uses of the land, Kloftt 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 around 150 responses to a survey on the project.
“Even though these are wetlands,” Klofft said, “because recreation and education are seen as part of the values and functions of wetlands, some low-impact uses make sense.”
Some uses considered by planners include boardwalks, a treehouse and a trail system, 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 birding at the site. Many have said they would love a story walk there for the kids that could be changed seasonally, said Josie Henry, president of the Alburgh Selectboard.
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,” Kloftt said, “and to encourage more business there.”
Currently, the village does not have a lot of 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 expected 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 are progressing according to schedule,” she said, “and we are building momentum now that residents are seeing this fall into place. “