The Better Places Partnership announced today they have awarded nearly $130,000 to eight Vermont towns, including the Central Vermont towns of Northfield and Middlesex. These grants will help communities reimagine and reopen public spaces for safe dining, shopping, and recreation, while showcasing the state’s unique sense of place. “Better Places grants are an important tool in our toolbox to help revitalize our communities as we recover from the pandemic,” said Governor Phil Scott. Northfield will receive $18,000 to revitalize the Town Common by adding new lighting, moveable furniture, street banners, public art, and COVID-safety measures. These investments will provide more outdoor dining options for local restaurants, extend the hours of the farmers market, provide COVID-safe gathering areas, install ADA-friendly furniture, and significantly increase the beauty and function of the common. Middlesex was awarded $20,000 to partner with the owner of the historic Camp Meade property to expand publicly accessible trails and develop two river overlooks along the Winooski River. This investment will expand recreational opportunities, offer more connections to the river and village, and celebrate Middlesex’s history and relationship to the river. Read more about the revival in Middlesex in the February print issue of “The Bridge” here.“Public spaces can tell a story about our communities — they bring us together when accessible or leave us isolated when they aren’t,” says Vermont Community Foundation President and CEO Dan Smith. “The Community Foundation is committed to working with other state leaders to support projects that bring people together safely and contribute to the recovery and resilience of our economy, culture, and sense of connection.” The Better Places partnership is a place-based economic development program that revitalizes public spaces, empowers residents, supports local recovery efforts, and advances community-driven placemaking projects in Vermont’s downtowns and village centers. The program received 63 applications from 54 communities across the state requesting nearly $1 million in total grant funding. Aside from Northfield and Middlesex, Barton, Ludlow, Rutland, Springfield, White River Junction, and Wilmington were also awarded grants. Governor Scott continued, “I want to thank the Vermont Community Foundation, the National Life Foundation, the Vermont Arts Council, the Preservation Trust of Vermont, and the Vermont Department of Health for their work on this program as we support improvements in towns and villages across the state.” The Better Places Partnership pilot program was supported and funded by Vermont Community Foundation, the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, the Vermont Arts Council, the Preservation Trust of Vermont, the National Life Group Foundation, and the Vermont Department of Health. The program relies on the expertise and generous support from cross-sector partners that includes the funding partners above and AARP-VT, Local Motion, the Vermont Department of Transportation, and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets.