What Newport Needs
By Mary Brenner
Newport VT cannot support any more retail business.
Several small cities and towns in VT have re-created themselves as economic centers through specialization. Most are built around a symbolic or economic focal point.
Jeffersonville Bryan Gallery as center for arts
Hardwick BAg industrial center for agribusinesses
Barre opera house as focus for theater
Craftsbury Sterling college as center of regenerative agriculture
West Charleston Northwoods as center of outdoor education and tourism
Island Pond snowmobiling and hunting center
Newport could take better advantage of its location on Lake Memphremagog by improving access and facilities for using the lake. We already have a wonderful dock and boathouse with port authority for entry to Canada. Parking near the Gateway center is awful, and other growth opportunities nearby are hampered by narrow land area between the lake and the railroad. The alternative boat docking facility at the East Side Restaurant is hampered by the fact that the dock is private. The road access is tortuous, the parking is private and muddy, there is no place to open up the lake view to more small shops and restaurants. Access to Prouty Beach is a hidden secret. And there is no tie-in to the East Side docks, or the downtown area. Although public, parking is not free.
The proposed extension of the bike/walking path along the lake between the State House and the public park may be the answer. Consideration should be given to better parking, road access and linkage, both road and walking/biking/skiing/skating between the Gateway, the Statehouse, the East Side, Prouty Beach, the bike path and the Preserve. Support and encouragement should be given to lake use businesses and activities. There is no where to rent a canoe, a motor boat, ski-dos, sailboats and skimming boats, skates, skis, fishing equipment, bikes, or public docking. The high school should have a summer boating program as part of its hospitality courses. Limited amount of rustic camping should be allowed in the preserve (no electric hookups). Nature trails could also be developed through the preserve, again by the high school science classes. An agricultural demonstration area would be a great tourist draw. And street vendors should be allowed.
Biking is a major activity in the north west of the city and around Mempremagog. However, the entries into Newport via Rte 5 are dangerous to bikers and drivers trying to negotiate around the bikers. Separate Bike route could be developed.
It would be nice to open up the south bay for non-motorized access to the wonderful natural area by providing better parking, canoe rental, concession stands, nature trails, bike/walk/ski trail.
And, ease of entry to Canada via the lake should be encouraged by negotiations with the port authority.
Better support and nation-wide promotion should be given to the fishing derby, aqua-fest, ice-plunge and ice-fishing. (Until global warming eliminates ice-fishing.) Again, the high school students could learn how to be fishing guides.