This summer, I had the transformative experience of working in the Town of Milton Planning and Economic Development office as a Natural Resource Planning Intern. Milton is a growing town in the northern area of Chittenden County, and thus provides excellent insights into the socio-spatial changes that occur with increased population and economic development.
I had two projects with the Town of Milton. I spent most of my time writing a stormwater management advisory report, which provides management choices to the Milton community for cost-effective, long-term strategies to reduce the harmful water quality impact of stormwater runoff from developed lands. What I found particularly meaningful about this project, and about town planning as a career field, is the interdisciplinary nature of the work. I waded through rivers studying their geomorphology, read legislative reports and permitting forms, inspected Milton’s catch basins with the Town engineer, interviewed municipal stormwater managers throughout Chittenden County, and investigated the economics of clean water in a literature review. At the end of the summer, I handed off a report that Milton’s decision makers can use to guide policy and capital planning.
The rest of my summer internship was focused on bringing the voices of Milton residents into the Comprehensive Town Plan, which is a long-term guide for municipal policies and programs. I worked with Milton’s Planning Director, Jacob Hemmerick, to develop an outreach plan that included a survey, post card stories, a “Milton In The Future” workshop, and activities for events in town. After receiving vast public input, I organized and analyzed all of the feedback we received, and presented the information to Milton’s planning commission to inform an upcoming update to the adopted Comprehensive Town Plan.
Working in the Town of Milton was an incredibly rewarding experience. I thoroughly enjoyed applying my education to a professional setting and feeling that my work had a direct impact on the world around me. From what I gathered in the past three months, town planning is an excellent field for big-picture thinkers that want to see tangible impacts from their efforts. Planners are charged with balancing economic development with ecological limits to growth, while promoting quality of life for all residents. Doesn’t that sound exciting?