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Barkhamsted tackles economic development

BARKHAMSTED — With a new economic development plan in hand, Barkhamsted town officials have begun the process of forming a new commission to put the recommendations into action.

Earlier this fall, the Board of Selectmen received the finalized Barkhamsted Economic Development Strategy report.

The study, which was commissioned by the town and conducted by a three-member consulting team, is expected to serve as the cornerstone of the town’s future economic development strategy.

Included in that report was the recommendation to create a new Economic Development Commission.

The town formed such a commission in the early 1980s, but it ceased to exist as a formal town board a number of years ago, according to First Selectmen Don Stein.

“People lose interest,†he said of the commission’s disbanding.

Over the past two years, however, a small group of town officials and residents have been meeting informally to discuss Barkhamsted’s economic development.

But Stein said the time has finally come to appoint a formal board.

“We want to create a standing body,†he said.

Moving forward on the study group’s recommendation, the selectmen recently approved a new charter to re-form an Economic Development Commission.

Stein said the commission will be an important part of the town’s development strategy for the future, by working to promote and develop economic resources for the town.

The commission’s mission will be based in four specific areas defined in the finalized report. Those areas are promoting Barkhamsted as a business and tourist destination, attracting jobs for Barkhamsted residents, developing a proactive program to facilitate the location and expansion of quality businesses and community assets that are consistent with the character of the town, and ensuring that community development activities develop and follow the economic development strategy.

Stein said the selectmen are seeking volunteers to serve on the new board. The commission will consist of seven members appointed by the selectmen.

According to Stein, commission members are not required to be residents or town taxpayers but can simply be anyone with an interest in moving the town’s economic development forward.

“People who just want to see the town prosper,†he said.

So far, about a dozen individuals have put their names forward as potential members.

Stein added, however, that town officials want to make sure as many people as possible know about the commission so that anyone interested in serving on the board has time to be considered.

Although eventually all commission members will be appointed for five-year terms, Stein said initial appointment lengths will be staggered.

“That way, not everybody turns over at the same time,†he said.

 For more information about the new commission, or to receive a copy of the final Barkhamsted Economic Development report, contact First Selectman Don Stein at 860-379-8285 or dstein@barkhamsted.us.

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