The Westport town hall.
The town of Westport has agreed to hire a consulting firm to aid in the towns revitalization project.
The town board decided its Aug. 14 regular meeting to hire River Street Planning and Development LLC.
Town Supervisor Dan Connell said the firm was chosen for their experiences with towns the size of Westport who have faced similar challenges.
“We want to keep this an open process to see what they identify in the town and see how Westport can be more economically viable,” Connell said. “They will look at our community and help identify what projects might lead to economic development.”
The town’s revitalization project goes back four years after residents formed “Future of Westport” informational meetings. The meetings in 2008 were attended by over 150 people who brainstormed the challenges, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the community.
The lectures hoped to determine the “big picture,” of the most important factors that influence quality of life and growth in the town.
The town will be hiring River Street Planning & Development through a Local Waterfront Revitalization grant from the Department of State Division of Environmental Protection Fund. The grant is meant to help the town get assistance in preparing an Economic Revitalization Strategy to advance priority projects in the community and hamlet. The town was approved last year for funding from the Department of State as the result of previous work by numerous volunteer committees and the town council over the past several years to explore ways of strengthening Westport’s economic viability and its regional visibility.
“The potential of the town is set to come into focus,” Charles Russell, head of the Westport Revitalization Advisory Volunteer group, said.
Russell said that because Westport is not only located alongside Lake Champlain but also Interstate 87 makes it an ideal transportation hub.
“There is a huge economic drive to find a part of Westport to emphasize and bring focus to,” Russell said.
In this stage of the effort, the town is funded to seek assistance from expert consultants to develop a strategy for community revitalization, sustainable economic development, and enhanced awareness and promotion of the community as a cultural center and to identify resources, gaps, and potential opportunities to cultivate niche markets.
Goals of the project include: revitalize the Town and hamlet through strategic recruitment and enhancement of small business activity in order to foster an economically viable year round community; utilize tourism, agriculture, light industry and entrepreneurship to capitalize on the town’s unique proximity to inter-modal transportation and traditional role as a resort community and a gateway to both Lake Champlain and Adirondacks; determine the need, interest and opportunity for dedicated, affordable work and display space for artists; and explore establishment of a multi-discipline community arts center.