National Trust Watch List

Vermont Advocates Respond to Inclusion of Four Vermont Towns on 2018 List of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places

On June 26, 2018 , the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed the central Vermont towns of Royalton, Sharon, Strafford, and Tunbridge on its annual watchlist of endangered places. The decision came on the heels of a Utah-based developer’s ongoing proposal to construct NewVistas, a planned community he envisions will attract tens of thousands of new residents to the four-town region of Vermont. So far, the developer has acquired over 1,500 acres in the area.

The Vermont Natural Resources Council and the Preservation Trust of Vermont, along with a wide range of other local and state partners, continue working together to lead advocacy to stop the planned development, under expectation that the development would irreversibly disrupt the character of this rural Vermont area, historic and otherwise.

“The NewVistas development threatens to ruin the natural and historic features of this region that connect the people to the land and sustain the local economy: historic village centers, forestland, and farmland,” said Michael Sacca, President of the Alliance for Vermont Communities. “Today’s watchlist recognition is critical to raising public awareness across the state, region, and nation about how important it is to prevent NewVistas from coming to life, in order to sustain our efforts to conserve Vermont’s land and historic treasures.”

“The decision to place Royalton, Sharon, Strafford, and Tunbridge on a national watchlist of endangered places eliminates any doubt that the NewVistas development proposal poses a significant threat, not only to these four small rural communities, but also to the surrounding region,” said Brian Shupe, Executive Director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC).

“Having NewVistas recognized as a nationally significant challenge by the National Trust for Historic Preservation is an important step in helping the developer understand that his idea is a bad one for Vermont,” said Paul Bruhn, Executive Director of the Preservation Trust of Vermont. “I hope he is listening!”

For just the third time in the history of the list, the 2018 11 Most includes a 12th site placed on “Watch Status.” Watch Status means that a specific threat to a historic site appears to be growing, but can be avoided or controlled through collaboration and innovation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places is run annually to raise awareness of historic sites at risk from neglect, deterioration, lack of maintenance, insufficient funds, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy. The list has been one of the most successful tools in the fight to save America’s irreplaceable architectural, cultural, and natural heritage. Learn more here: [Boston Globe June 26

A New Chapter

We are elated to announce David Hall’s decision to abandon his NewVistas development in Vermont. This is an opportunity for us to get creative in a way that engages community members in thinking about the future of this region. We look forward to working with new partners in developing innovative strategies which reflect community values and are in-line with current town plans.

We are very fortunate to have diverse partners and a strong local team to help brainstorm the best way of reintegrating the 1500 acres  back into our communities. Our hope is that David Hall sees the greater good in this process, thereby enabling us to plan for a brighter future for this land.

Over the last two years the four towns have developed closer ties by working together through the threat of NewVistas, and it will be important for us to continue this regional relationship. Royalton, Sharon, Strafford and Tunbridge share common roots in their working landscapes as well as similar economic issues. We have a great opportunity in front of us and we need to make the most of it together. We are incredibly hopeful for the future and we look forward to remaining a resource and advocate for this region. We are excited about the chance to begin focusing our energy on our real work, bringing vibrancy and opportunity to our communities.

Statement from Stephanie Meeks, President and CEO, National Trust for Historic Preservation

“We are relieved to hear that the four Vermont towns of Royalton, Sharon, Strafford, and Tunbridge, the Watch Status Site on our 2018 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list, are potentially safe from inappropriate development. While this news came shortly after our listing, it is mainly thanks to the tireless efforts of our local partners at The Alliance for Vermont Communities, Vermont Natural Resources Council, and Preservation Trust of Vermont, and their work to preserve and protect their idyllic New England communities. While communities need to adapt and grow over time to achieve economic growth, irreparably harming historic character is almost always a step in the wrong direction. We will continue observing the area in the coming weeks and months, and we hope the future of these land parcels is in keeping with the historic character, community interests, and conservation spirit of these towns and Vermont as a whole.”
Michael Sacca Productions