Loyal community volunteer John Malter receives O’Dell Award — Waterbury Roundabout
At their first in-person annual meeting in three years, members of Revitalizing Waterbury recapped a busy 2021, reflected on upcoming plans for 2022 and honored longtime community volunteer John Malter with the Service Award group annual.
About 70 members and staff gathered at the Vermont Country Club on Wednesday with more listening online via Zoom. In attendance was Laura Vilalta, owner of Black Cap Coffee who two days earlier had been announced as the new tenant of Waterbury Station, which is owned by Revitalizing Waterbury.
The group hailed her as she set about transforming the downtown landmark into a new cafe and bakery, reopening the historic establishment after it had been closed since March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Former Keurig tenant Dr. Pepper closed the Green Mountain coffee roasters cafe and visitor center at the train station and decided later in 2021 that it would not reopen. Black Cap is planning construction to customize the space with an expected opening later this year.
Resuming activity at the station beyond twice-daily Amtrak arrivals was high on the group’s list of efforts for 2022. In a slide presentation that is now available on the Revitalizing Waterbury websiteRW board and staff members recap 2021 highlights and outlined plans for this year.
A busy 2021
Last year saw the completion of the Main Street reconstruction for which the organization was involved in coordinating communication for and with local businesses and planning project beautification elements such as signage , flower boxes and benches and public art.
The various activities of the organization as of 2021 fall into four categories: economic development, downtown status, programming and community outreach, and direct support for businesses.
Last year’s economic development activities included the hiring of an economic development manager, Mark Pomilio Jr. permission and apply for grants. Downtown-focused activities have largely involved the impacts of Main Street construction on businesses, working with city planners on reviewing development regulations, and helping businesses navigate government credit programs. tax and government loans.
Outreach includes activities such as the annual arts festival, grants to local organizations to organize events, expansion of public art facilities, beautification, promotion of tourism, and working with the Stowe Area Association and the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce to promote tourism along the Route 100 corridor.
Direct support to local businesses includes the ongoing Waterbury Bucks gift certificate program, holiday shopping promotions, business networking events, advertising, visitor communications and promotions such as the Waterbury Adventure Challenge.
During a slide presentation, Executive Director Karen Nevin announced that the board has developed a statement on equity, diversity and inclusion that will be incorporated into its ongoing work. The statement reads: “We are committed to helping Waterbury be a welcoming and accessible place, where people support and encourage each other, where differences are valued and accepted, and where all voices are heard.”
Nevin said the ideas outlined in the statement are practical. “We think it’s important to incorporate our statement into our work,” she said. Diversity principles will be reflected in efforts the organization will undertake, she said, such as a video marketing project this summer for which various models will be hired.
Two recently completed projects are a housing study and a retail market analysis, the findings of which have just been shared with local government and business leaders and will also be shared with the community, Pomilio said.
Transforming Jack’s Alley
Looking ahead to 2022, plans are underway to spruce up the Stowe Street Lane adjacent to Stowe Street Emporium. Enhancing the space for public use as a mini-park for music, art and gatherings was something envisioned by former retail store owner and long-time Revitalizing Waterbury and community volunteer Jack Carter.
Carter passed away last June and since then Nevin said around $40,000 in donations had been raised for the alley project, “many in honor of Jack,” she said.
Outgoing Revitalizing Waterbury chair Theresa Wood said Carter’s legacy fuels the momentum to transform the space. “We will complete this alley project because it was one of Jack’s dreams,” she said.
The project needs municipal permits and design work is underway with plans to carry out the work in phases, she said. Contributors include Waterbury Rotary, MakerSphere, Waterbury Arts, American Legion, Waterbury Historical Society and owners.
In addition to Carter, the reunion presentation paid tribute to former RW member and longtime member of the local business community, Stephen Van Esen, who passed away in December. A public memorial will take place for him in May.
Looking ahead, the annual Waterbury Arts Festival will return to its pre-pandemic days with dates set for July 8 and 9, said board member Scott Weigand. However, due to new tent safety regulations, they will be moved to a new location this year, from Stowe Street and Bidwell Lane to the Pilgrim Park lawn behind the station. The event is Revitalizing Waterbury’s biggest fundraiser each year. It will still feature a Friday night party and a Saturday arts market, food vendors and entertainment, he said.
The organization’s treasurer, Dave Luce, offered brief remarks on the nonprofit’s finances for the past year. The group’s financial statements are available online and detail its annual budget of approximately $300,000.
Malter honored for his services