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Shelburne eyes new open space, action plan

SHELBURNE — Would a “Shelburne-grown” label help local farmers promote and market their locally grown food and produce? Should the schools create an agriculture-based curriculum that would include field trips to Shelburne farms? Should the town create a public swimming area?

After a year of study and evaluation of a townwide survey, the Open Space and Recreation Committee will hold a public hearing to present a draft of a new Open Space and Recreation Plan regarding future town development.

The hearing takes place Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in Fellowship Hall, in Shelburne Center. The draft proposal to cover 2014 to 2021 began last October, when 60 residents attended an Open Space forum to talk about their visions for the town’s future.

Their ideas were incorporated into a survey that was sent to over 900 households. At least 300 responded, with comments and suggestions that were put into a summary that was distributed at the May 2013 annual town meeting.

The responding residents had three main goals:

∎  To make sure Shelburne keeps its rural, agricultural, historic and small-town character.

∎  To maintain and/or improve natural resources, including water sources and drinking water supplies, clean air, native wildlife populations and vegetation.

∎  To improve the quality, quantity and accessibility of recreational resources to best serve residents’ needs.

According to the committee, the plan includes information about the town’s history, population characteristics, and an inventory and analysis of natural resources. There is also information about land conservation and recreational opportunities, maps, and a seven-year action plan of steps aimed at meeting the common goals and ensuring Shelburne remains “true to its rural roots, even as it faces the challenges of the future,” according to a news release about the meeting.

The action plan includes making inventories of natural resources, and organizing periodic forums for farm and forest owners on issues of concern. The complete Open Space and Recreation Plan is available on the town’s website.

Co-chairman David Schochet said the public input at this meeting will be used in drafting a final version, which the committee hopes to present to residents at the annual town meeting in May.

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