Windham community development director Laura Scott said there is never a “one size fits all” when it comes to the fine balance communities try to protect open space, bring in new business and offer good living and pay for recent college graduates.
“We tend to focus on who’s coming, who’s not here anymore, but it’s a life cycle,” Scott said. “It’s also about learning from your mistakes and finding ways to move past it.”
Derry Rep. Betsy Burtis came to the workshop to hear what people were saying about their towns, what was working and what needed help. As a state representative, she said it was important for her to be there and hear what people were thinking.
“I came here specifically for that reason, to hear what people want,” she said.
Having people contact their state legislators is also good, Burtis said, as it keeps the topics that are most important to residents in the forefront.
“Most of my colleagues do pay attention to that,” she said. “They do listen and you get (residents’) feelings out there.”
Burtis hoped more people would have taken an interest in the visioning workshop as only about 20 attended. Everyone there had sound ideas and knowledge about individual towns and what the main points of concern were.
“But I found the process very transparent and I am very impressed,” she said.
Preece said he always appreciates the people who take the time to attend the planning workshops and programs offered.
“These are exciting programs we are trying to get communities involved with,” he said.
Preece said officials need to plan for growth and want to hear from communities about what they want to see in the future.
“We need to have a regional vision of how we proceed economically,” he said. “The input we received today we will use in development and the update of our regional plan. It’s an opportunity for all of us to be involved.”
He said all those who take part will see the fruits of their labor.
“If we’re not proactive about planning for our future, it’s still going to happen,” Preece said, “and we’ll say ‘Where was I in the process?’”