Shelburne Falls named to ‘great places’ list

  • The Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, a now iconic attraction. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • A visiting couple at the Glacial Potholes in Shelburne Falls overlook the ice formations in winter. Recorder/Paul Franz PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 9/24/2018 11:42:19 PM

SHELBURNE FALLS — When people think of Shelburne Falls, they think of the Bridge of Flowers, the Glacial Potholes, the “Bowling Alley” alley, and the little surprises of local, donated art that dot the walkable downtown and its Victorian brick buildings — the stained glass windows, a slate bench, stone fountain and the mosaic tile murals to West County towns. Put it all together with artisan shops and studios, Moonlight Magic, the Iron Bridge Dinner and the Bridge of Flowers Road Race, and you have what many people say is a great place to live.

This year, the American Planning Association has confirmed that assessment, designating the village as one of of 15 “Great Places in America.” Located in the town centers of Buckland and Shelburne, the village was ranked by the association as one of five “Great Neighborhoods” for this year.

“Shelburne Falls is at the heart of what’s known locally as West County,” said Art Schwenger, past executive director of the Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association.

“Visitors come to the village and surrounding small towns to enjoy the area’s rural quality scenic mountain beauty, outdoor recreation and locally grown foods and crafted products. Good planning has led to the success of Shelburne Falls,” said Schwenger. “For the future, the same conscientious planning will be key to preserving the intact village character that its 1,700 residents cherish, and to helping West County become one of the best four-season recreation areas in New England.”

“It’s significant that they’re honoring us to preserve our rural town center, but, at the same time, allowing it to grow,” said Whit Sanford, who represents both the Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association (GSFABA) and the Village Partnership, which is a consortium for Shelburne and Buckland to work together.

“Everybody loves this place as it is. But to keep it that way, we have to work at it,” said Sanford. “By keeping us in the public eye, as a consequence of this national designation, I hope we can boost the economy of this rural region.”

According to Sanford and Buckland Town Administrator Andrea Llamas, the village was nominated for this award by members of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments.

“It’s terrific, because I think the village deserves this kind of recognition,” said Llamas. She said the American Planning Association will publicize Shelburne Falls throughout the year, which will help the GSFABA to promote the village.

The village will be celebrating this award at an event to be held at the Shelburne Buckland Community Center on Oct. 18. Details are still being planned.

Since starting the Great Places in America program in 2007, the American Planning Association (APA) has recognized 290 neighborhoods, streets and public spaces nationwide. The annually selected places represent the “gold standard for a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement and a vision for the future,” according to a news release by the Association.

The other Great Neighborhood recipients this year were: the Canalway Cultural District in Lowell; the Guthrie Historic District in Oklahoma; Georgetown, Texas; and the Ghent neighborhood in Norfolk, Va.

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