Wilmington gets funding to create winter park, outdoor recreation

WILMINGTON — Wilmington Works will use a $3,000 grant from AARP Vermont to create a winter park and provide recreation opportunities at fields and trails at the Old School Community Center Recreation Field and Buzzy Towne Park.

The downtown agency will be clearing a quarter-mile walking loop and organizing pop-up seasonal activities regularly throughout the winter. Temporary warming shelters will be set up in the baseball dugouts with benches and lighting.

The grant funds Winter Placemaking Demonstration Projects, which “jump-start projects that focus on creating public spaces and streets that are safe and accessible for everyone,” according to a news release announcing the funding.

The goal of the project is providing safe, accessible gathering spaces outdoors for community members to enjoy. Activities will be created to address the needs of all age groups, ability levels, and interests.

“This is an opportunity for these Vermont communities to start small by test-driving a process in the community with the expectation that the project will be further improved upon and refined over time and hopefully lead to permanent change to the built environment,” Kelly Stoddard Poor of AARP Vermont said.

The three winning proposals, from Burlington, Poultney, and Wilmington, were selected from a host of applications.

This is the third year of AARP's Placemaking Grant Program, which “aims to help communities build social capital that can help lead to permanent change that supports healthy, active lifestyles for people of all ages and abilities.”

“We know that simple modifications can powerfully alter the health, economic, social, and ecological value of a community,” Poor said. “When community members and local officials can actually see and experience a new or altered space, they are better able to understand what is possible and how it can improve their community.”

In support of these projects, AARP Vermont will provide technical assistance and publicity support, as well as helping project leaders network with other local, regional, or state organizations.

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