Patrons in the City Reimagine Roxbury, Vermont
How a small village in central Vermont came together to reimagine its future through the development of a small park in the center of town.
When a small underutilized lot became available in the center of Roxbury, Vermont, community members jumped at the opportunity to develop a park and create a gathering place for all. Residents had a vision for a better place for their community to come together, exercise, and entertain.
In spring 2023, the Roxbury Village Park Committee–including Ed Carney, Elizabeth Carney, Craig Sullivan, Jim Rogler, and Dotti Guiffre–launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to support their vision. The grassroots campaign raised $8,615 from 51 patrons, exceeding its goal of $7,500. The outpouring of support showcased the deep desire from the community to invest in its future through the development of the new park.
By meeting the crowdfunding goal, the project unlocked a 2:1 matching grant from the Better Places program, empowering Vermonters to create inclusive and vibrant public places serving Vermont's designated downtowns, village centers, new town centers, and neighborhood development areas. The program is led by the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) in partnership with the Vermont Community Foundation and Patronicity.
We had the privilege to speak with Ed, Chair of the Roxbury Village Park Committee, and Dotti, landscape architect, about how the project came to fruition and the impact it has had on the community.
Dotti moved to Vermont with her husband in 2010 from Boston, Massachusetts. She moved to be closer to her son and receive additional support to care for her husband who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.
“The beauty of vistas, meadows, farms and slopes in Vermont, with bright starry skies at night, and the seasonal changes during the year was very therapeutic for me,” said Dotti. “The majesty of the mountains in the distance created a powerful sense of place that was calming.”
Following her husband’s passing, Dotti returned to a career of teaching at the village school for eight years.
“It gave me great insight into the issues that affect this particular community and its residents,” said Dotti.
Ed shares a similar passion for the land and community of Roxbury.
When asked why he loves where he lives, Ed responded, “Great neighbors, forest land to manage and utilize for growing Christmas trees, making maple syrup, raising animals and gardening. Ideal place for children to grow up. Also, having the opportunities to serve the community as a member of several committees over the years.”
After retiring from teaching at the village school, Dotti jumped at the opportunity to serve the community
“When I retired, I joined the planning committee, rewriting the town plan with a group of interested citizens,” said Dotti. “We began to look toward the needs of the community for the next eight years. It was a great exercise for all of the committee to engage in and set an agenda for issues to work on as a town.”
One of the missing pieces identified by the committee was a park–a place to gather with friends, relax and enjoy nature. This all changed when a piece of land became available.
“This opportunity presented itself in Roxbury when the sale of a lot came on the market across from the Roxbury Village School in the center of town,” said Ed.
The lot was abandoned; filled with discarded cars and trucks overgrown with vines and weeds. Yet community members saw an opportunity to create a better place for all.
“The enthusiasm and support we received, as the plan took shape, from the residents of Roxbury, supporters from Patronicity and the State of Vermont Better Places Grant has encouraged the members of our Park Development Committee to keep going and give it our best,” said Dotti.
“The community responded by donating the funds to purchase the land for the Roxbury Village Park,” said Ed. “The Better Places Grant accelerated the Roxbury Village Park Project motivating us to reconnect with friends, neighbors and families that recently moved to Roxbury. It demonstrated with leadership and volunteers how a community can improve its appearance and provide a space for all its members to enjoy and be proud of the effort they put into making the Roxbury Village Park a reality. It demonstrated that with conviction and cooperation we can effect positive change for the betterment of our town and community.”
The result is a beautiful park for and by the community that will be enjoyed for generations to come.
Inspired by their progress and commitment to building a more vibrant community, we asked Ed to share advice for those interested in becoming more involved in their community.
“Talk to your neighbors and the selectboard members about a project that you and a group of interested townspeople are willing to work on,” said Ed. “If you receive positive feedback with respect to your project from the town, identify resources that you will need to successfully address the project. Keep the town administrators and the community undated with the group or committee's progress. Reach beyond the community for additional financial support and expertise.”
At Patronicity, we believe that passionate individuals can spur change in their communities. We refer to those individuals as Patrons in the City, dedicating their time, sweat, and tears to building vibrant communities. Ed and Dotti exemplify the spirit of community and remind us that we can create the change we wish to see where we live.
Do you have an idea to create change in your community? Become a patron to your city by launching your project today at www.Patronicity.com.