$200K grant to fuel Newport’s four-season recreation initiatives

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NEWPORT — Newport Downtown Development has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Collaborative (VOREC) to support a collaborative effort among ten organizations dedicated to promoting outdoor recreation in the Newport area.

The grant opportunity, announced by the state in October 2023, encouraged proposals built on new and creative collaborations. Newport Downtown Development reached out to potential partners to explore the possibility of developing a project that would build capacity in each organization and form a collective to work together in building Newport’s four-season, outdoor recreation economy.

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Phil White from Kingdom Games expressed his enthusiasm for the collaboration.

“This kind of shared vision for what Newport has to offer is exactly what we have needed.”

Rick Ufford-Chase, Director of Newport Downtown Development, echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the potential for greater impact through promoting Newport as the outdoor recreation hub for the northern part of the Northeast Kingdom.

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More than 20 volunteers from the participating organizations worked together to develop the complex and wide-ranging grant proposal, with each organization contributing its unique assets. The award will fund various initiatives, including:

  • Extending the Northern Star’s cruises further into Canada
  • Offering free canoeing and kayaking once a week throughout the summer
  • Expanding open-water competitive swimming on Lake Memphremagog
  • Building a “welcome center yurt” on the Memphremagog Trail system
  • Modifying the pedestrian bridge at the causeway for safe passage for biking, walking, fishing, and snowmobiling
  • Maintaining the VT Land Trust property at Bluffside Farm
  • Mitigating invasive species in Scott’s Cove
  • Offering sailing lessons and rentals on Lake Memphremagog
  • Offering e-bike rentals and pedal boats in Gardner Park
  • Planning gravel bike circuits for the circumnavigation of Lake Memphremagog

The grant will also allow Newport Downtown Development to fund a redesign of the DiscoverNewportvt.com website to resource outdoor recreation enthusiasts, promote a cooperative marketing strategy, and hire a part-time coordinator to support the newly named “Newport Outdoor Recreation Collaborative.”

Ufford-Chase praised the partners’ cooperative efforts in meeting challenges during the proposal process.

No drama, no competition. Just a real commitment to work together and put Newport and Lake Memphremagog on the map,” Ufford-Chase said.

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