Tag - Todd Thomas

1
How 336 Dimples Helped Me Lose 20 Pounds
2
A Walkable Village and Morrisville Complete Streets
3
Reasons to Get Out and About in Our Community

How 336 Dimples Helped Me Lose 20 Pounds

By: Todd Thomas 

I don’t get to sleep-in much anymore. Believe it or not, I am thrilled with this change.

Most mornings, I now jump out of bed, grab a granola bar, and walk up the hill to Copley Golf Club. As I arrive on the first tee of the golf course, I am alone. Save for the glance and scurry of the occasional mama fox and her kits, there is not a sound to be heard. My (usually wayward) first tee shot is often the first human sound heard each morning in the heart of the village. Then I am off, pounding the fairways, chasing the 336 dimples of my golf ball around the 66 acre golf course.

By the time I complete my morning 9 holes of golf, I have already taken about 10,000 steps, all before 8 AM. As I walk to work with my golf round (and dreams of joining the Senior Golf Tour) firmly behind me, I feel energized and refreshed. Getting more exercise in is so much easier now because I enjoy it. Chasing that little white golf ball around Copley Golf Club has helped me lose more than 20 pounds during the last two years. That weight loss is a pretty cool accomplishment. It is not as cool as playing golf for a living on the Senior Tour, but being healthier, skinnier, and feeling better about myself is still pretty fantastic.

So please feel free to join me for some sunrise golf at Copley (membership is a bargain there at only about $600 a year). You may not improve your golf game, but walking those 9 holes before work a few times a week will definitely make you healthier.

What’s your favorite way to get moving? Let us know in the comment section below.


Todd Thomas has a Master’s Degree in City Planning from Boston University and has worked both in Massachusetts and Vermont as a consultant and as a land use planner for town government. Todd is currently the Planning Director for Morristown, Vermont.

Todd’s recent work includes helping to revitalize downtown Morrisville, making it the fastest growing city and/or historic downtown in the State since the 2010 Census. Todd attributes much of the downtown’s housing and population growth to zoning reform as it relates to minimum parking requirements.

A Walkable Village and Morrisville Complete Streets

By: Josh Goldstein

Josh Goldstein stands tall amongst the next generation of developers in Morrisville. He cares deeply about creating a sense of place in our community, and recently donated all the pavers and his time for the install for the new front patio of the Morrisville Food Co-op on Pleasant Street. Recently, Josh has focused his time on improving both the physical appearance and the functionality of downtown Morrisville – especially for pedestrians. As you will see in Josh’s below column, if we start to remake downtown Morrisville for pedestrians, more walkers and bikers will be able to take advantage of this infrastructure. And for me, the more people we have on our streets, the healthier our downtown (and its residents) will be. I hope you enjoy Josh’s perspective on our downtown as much as I do. Thank you and happy reading.

– Todd Thomas

After an entire generation of designing streets and roads around the car, truck, and snowplow, American cities from coast to coast are re-investing in and re-examining the use of streets and sidewalks. Bigger cities like Seattle, San Francisco Austin, Chicago, New York, and Miami have all adopted progressive policies toward multi-use streets by implementing dedicated bicycle lanes, traffic-calming implements such as raised/textured crosswalks, and green space “bumpouts.” There is also more public seating, pocket parks or “parklets’” and increased greening with urban trees and other landscaping. Scores of articles and research papers point out the socioeconomic benefits of better designed streetscapes and offer empirical evidence that shows how these re-designed or re-purposed streets are providing better health (both mental and physical), greater tax revenues through increased retail sales, less pollution, fewer traffic incidents and injuries, and other valuable civic benefits. These improvements have been studied  and well documented, and finding the results is as easy as a Google search. But less publicized efforts and results exist right here in Vermont.

Cities like St. Albans and Barre, and of course the Queen City of Burlington, are easy examples with a walk down their recently improved streets and sidewalks. New decorative light posts, brick pavers, granite curbing, and tree grates welcome pedestrians with aesthetically pleasing and safe walking zones.  Stores, cafes, restaurants, and other retail establishments are moving in and thriving in these new, vibrant streets.  Children and seniors are crossing the streets more safely. Bicyclists are coming in from outer regions of the city and have ample space to ride, or to park and lock a bike. These Vermont cities were, as little as a decade ago, facing high vacancy rates and depleted downtowns, and now look like bustling economic and community engines. And with recent projects like the Route 100 Truck Route and other community improvements, like the “Chair-art-able Project” and growing music series at the Oxbow, it’s high-time Morrisville re-thinks our downtown with an attitude toward “Living Streets” and greater connectivity.

The European woonerf (pronounced VONE-erf), Dutch for “living street,” functions without traffic lights, stop signs, lane dividers or sidewalks. Indeed, the goal is to encourage human interaction. Those who use the space are forced to be aware of others around them, make eye contact and engage in personal interactions. These spaces invite pedestrians, bicyclists, slow moving vehicles, playing children, peddling vendors, and just about any community member to pass through, stay and linger, or play and be active. It’s a beacon for life in the village, and more than 6,000 woonerfs exist in the Netherlands, alone, and thousands more across Europe and United States. Burlington’s Church Street Marketplace is our best local example, but the brick paved streets of Portland, ME or crowded Commercial Street in Provincetown, MA are familiar to New Englanders, as well. Couldn’t we create such a space near Pleasant Street, or in an oft-forgotten quad like the Brigham St. parking lot?

Walkability in the streets comes with measurable results. The Journal of the American Planning Association notes that just a 5 % increase in walkability is associated with “a 32.1% per capita increase in time spent in physically active travel, a .23-point reduction in body mass index, 6.5% fewer vehicle miles traveled, 5.6% fewer grams of NOx emitted, and 5.5% fewer grams of volatile organic compounds emitted.” The Landscape Architecture Foundation found that “an increase of walking for errands amounted to 70 more minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week.” In one Colorado case study, a newly improved streetscape lowered vacancy rates from over 13% to 7.2% over three years, and increased tax revenues over 16% in one year after construction, doubling the typical rates for all of metro-Denver. Morrisville counted 860 homes in the village in a recent census, with over 25% of those homes having children. Nearby, within walking distance, are The Manor, Copley Hospital, and other senior service centers. Surely our children and seniors would benefit from more pedestrian activities in and around town.  The AARP has been promoting “Complete Streets” for decades, supporting research and guides for implementation.  And, likewise, our retail and restaurants would benefit from more pedestrians on the sidewalks and streets.

With the upcoming addition of Morrisville’s first co-op and downtown grocery store since 1890, the village should piggyback off what is sure to be an exciting and vibrant addition by increasing the walkability and connectivity to a re-born Portland Street.  A vivid, colorful pedestrian mall or mixed-use plaza from the new MoCo on Pleasant Street would create just such an avenue, and could boast rich vegetation, interesting and functional paving patterns, public seating and shelter, and maybe some kiosks or carts selling local wares and crafts.  The plaza would encourage more commercial business activity and fill long-vacant storefronts on Portland Street, perhaps fostering growth to Hutchins or Brigham Street.  A pocket park, or parklet, would encourage community members to “linger” in town a little longer, and life brings life. More people equals more people. We should re-open dialogues about connecting downtown with the also-emerging commercial side of town, or “Morrisville-North,” with a walkable/bikeable recreation path that could follow the river through and over the Oxbow, or over to Clark Park.

The community should come together and voice preferences on these aspects, much like a well-attended Charrette between local planners, architects, community members, and businesses did in 1999. This local study and open-forum of ideas labeled many concepts we still hear milling about in Morrisville almost two decades later. The study is available at the town offices, and is still very relevant today.  Let’s re-open the conversation and capture the excitement of a burgeoning downtown to create a better downtown. To make it happen, though, will require holistic involvement from the people who will use it. In a quote about the lessons of promoting pedestrian malls and complete streets, one planner commented “it just can’t be the city. The private businesses, the community, and the public sector all have to strongly support it.”  I’m in.

Reasons to Get Out and About in Our Community

By: Todd Thomas

I’m happy to report that spring has finally sprung. For those of us without winter sports interests, you can now safely step away for your woodstove, put away your touque and mittens, and get back outside. Spring is when many of us return to our gardens, resume our walking and jogging routines, and get active again. For those of you about to be active again, and even those of you that have not been active in a few years, I want to share a couple of great resources that will inspire you to get outside and pound the pavement (and maybe even shed a few of those winter pounds).

Lamoille Valley Walking Routes_Live Well LamoilleFirst, Healthy Lamoille Valley published a handy pocket-sized guide of walking routes, suitable for all abilities, located in both Morrisville and Hyde Park. This little guide book is a must-have for anyone that wants to get active the spring on our local roads and trails. The guidebook, pictured to the side, is available in the Morristown town clerk’s office. The guidebooks are free and are only available in a limited quantity. First come, first served!

Second, for those of you just starting to get active again, or those of us who do not like sharing the road with cars while exercising, there is an alternative. In the coming months, there will be a new walking path in the heart of our community that will celebrate Morrisville’s unique history and architecture. This walk will be suitable for all ages and abilities, as it will be done completely on the downtown sidewalks. This walk will take you to the most exemplary historical, architectural, and artsy sites in the downtown area. From a secret Fenway Park mural behind Riverbend Market, to Governor Hendee’s house on Park Street and to a church bell stolen from New Orleans during the Civil War on Upper Main Street, this walk will be educational and invigorating. For more on the soon to-be Morrisville History & Art Walk, here’s a great article on the Morristown Alliance for Commerce and Culture website:  

http://maccvt.org/2017/01/27/morrisville-history-and-art-walk/

I look forward to seeing you all around town being healthy and active!


Todd Thomas has a Master’s Degree in City Planning from Boston University and has worked both in Massachusetts and Vermont as a consultant and as a land use planner for town government. Todd is currently the Planning Director for Morristown, Vermont.

Todd’s recent work includes helping to revitalize downtown Morrisville, making it the fastest growing city and/or historic downtown in the State since the 2010 Census. Todd attributes much of the downtown’s housing and population growth to zoning reform as it relates to minimum parking requirements.