Known as the “Recreational Crossroads of Vermont,”Waterbury offers recreational and scenic opportunities to its many visitors. Yet, the slogan, which adorns a sign at the end of the community’s interstate ramp, only tells part of the story.
Shortly after the area was settled in 1763, unique cottage industries took shape, including basket-making, the crafting of children’s carriages and the assembly of various leather products. Timber harvesting and commercial agriculture also became important industries; however, tourism and economic growth truly began to thrive in 1849 when the Central Vermont Railroad was built.
Economic vitality and jobs today can be attributed in large part to the presence of State agencies and employers like Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, which employs over 600 full time staff, most of whom live in the area. Ben & Jerry’s Homemade and SUSS Microtec also contribute greatly to the job market in the Waterbury area.
Despite its history of economic growth and tourism, Waterbury has struggled to stay true to Vermont’s traditional settlement pattern of compact villages surrounded by rural landscape. Despite the emergence of strip development along route 100, local planning efforts have taken a smart growth approach by supporting compact, mixed-use development in Waterbury Village and Wtaerbury Center.
Waterbury Village is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and offers a fascinating glimpse into the past both architecturally and historically. The downtown revitalization that is currently underway in Waterbury Village, which was aided by the recent state designation as a Downtown Development District, highlights these historic attributes and adds to the value of the community.
Another valued addition to the community is RJ’s Friendly Market, which has recently taken over an old store front in Waterbury Village. The market provides a nice alternative to the supermarket chain Shaws, which is located north of the Village. RJ’s is Vermont-owned and the community is enthusiastic about having a local market that is easily accessible.
Some of the other benefits of the revitalization of Waterbury Village include the reconstruction of the Stimson & Graves building, which contains 14 low-income senior housing units, as well as a Senior Center and retail space. The project featured a variety of uses, serving critically needed community services. It also sparked a wave of private investments in other downtown buildings, which has provided space for new businesses.
All of the efforts to increase business and growth in the downtown district have been accomplished through a Municipal Plan that was revised in 2003 to incorporate a balance between development, environmental conservation and historic preservation. In addition, the community is also looking at how to address transportation and other community development issues to sustain the future growth of the area.
Next time you are traveling through Waterbury, stop and take a walk through the village, shop at the market or enjoy lunch or dinner at a local restaurant. You’ll see how the “Recreational Crossroads” has remained home to people who take pride in their community.