HARDWICK – Governor Phil Scott and the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC) recently announced the recipients of the VOREC Community Grant Program. In announcing this round of grant recipients, the Governor restated his support for outdoor recreation as an important means for economic recovery and development.
The Town of Hardwick received a $200,000 grant for “Designing and engineering for new Gateway Park. Reconstructing historic pedestrian bridge connecting community park to downtown center. Supporting Outdoor Recreation Working Group to assist local organizations, develop a marketing plan and building regional partnerships.”
Reconstruction of the pedestrian bridge in downtown Hardwick has been a priority for the select board since it was closed because of structural problems.
The VOREC Community Grant Program was created to help Vermont communities fully leverage their local outdoor recreation assets to become true ‘outdoor recreation friendly communities.’ Governor Scott established the VOREC Steering Committee by executive order in June 2017 to bring together a broad set of outdoor recreation stakeholders to promote stewardship of state recreation assets and market Vermont’s outdoor recreation values and attributes to effectively foster economic growth. Establishing a grant program that would provide funding to local communities was one of the first priorities the VOREC steering committee identified.
This year’s grant recipients joined the nine other communities that have received funding through the program since it was established by Act 194 in 2018. Additional funding in 2021 grew the program from a granting capacity of $100,000 to $200,000 to a total of $5 million. The investment has allowed the program to nearly triple the number of communities who are benefiting from the program and spurred changes to grant program requirements. These changes included expanding eligibility from only municipal entities to include non-profit organizations, and setting a $50,000 minimum with no maximum potential award.
Sterling College in Craftsbury was also among this year’s grant recipients. Sterling received a $200,000 grant for “Building a public-facing community wellness center and outdoor recreation hub to serve as a wayfinding point at the confluence of three trail systems in Craftsbury Village. Developing wayfinding and signage for the trails system, renovating an existing building to provide space for the center which includes space for exercise including a climbing gym, recreation programming and workshops, and equipment rentals.”
As previously reported, the Town of Cabot received a $62,500 VOREC grant for building connections between the village, the town’s trail network, the Cross Vermont Trail, and the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail.