The Town of Hopkinton is the fourth community to take part in UNH Extension’s Downtowns & Trails program. As part of the program, a dedicated group of community volunteers and Economic Development Director, Anna Wells, have assessed the natural and built features in the area, conducted intercept surveys of residents and visitors to Contoocook Village and surrounding trails, and interviewed several key informants (ranging from local business leaders to town committee leaders). The information gathered will inform decisions to improve connections between Contoocook Village, Hopkinton’s trail system, and village businesses and services.
On July 29, 2023, UNH Extension staff set up a booth at the Contoocook Farmers Market to share program information and gather additional feedback from residents and visitors about the Contoocook Village, Hopkinton’s trails, and the Contoocook River. Staff had meaningful conversations with over 30 visitors to the farmers market who stopped by the Extension booth. Visitors to our booth learned about the Downtowns & Trails program’s goals, preliminary findings from the Hopkinton spatial assessment and intercept interviews, and provided general and specific feedback on the Village of Contoocook and trails throughout the area. Extension staff specifically asked visitors to the farmers market about businesses, services, and natural assets they utilize in Contoocook Village, followed by the types of amenities they would like to see in the village.
Many individuals highlighted their use of key natural assets in the town, including the nearby Stevens Rail Trail, Mast Yards, and Kimball Pond. Visitors to the Extension booth also highlighted the farmers market and library as key assets in the area. Individuals shared significant areas of opportunity for the village, including the importance of public restroom availability, accessibility and sidewalk improvements, and opportunities to for improved transportation including wider road shoulders and trails for cycling throughout the village and town.
The information gathered will be used in our final report and recommendations. A major goal of our Downtowns & Trails program is to support communities in getting to action items that can impact the local economy in a positive and sustainable way. In addition to important data collection, our booth at the Farmer’s Market continued to raise awareness of the work ongoing in the community and highlighted the opportunity for future involvement in action and project implementation.