In late February, a group of concerned citizens gathered for the inaugural meeting of Solutions for a Better Dover. Held at Dover Town Hall, the meeting served as an introduction and brainstorming session to address several key issues within the community.
The meeting was chaired by organizers Jane Meunier, Jill Fieldstein, and Dennis Purdy, and drew a crowd of more than forty Dover citizens and residents from surrounding areas. Solutions for a Better Dover has no political affiliation but is, instead, a community organization that seeks to improve the area through communication and proactive service. The idea for the group sprung from social media forums in which Dover residents were voicing various concerns about issues in the town. “We put this group together to have residents in our community participate in a positive forum to make Dover a place to be proud of,” said co-organizer Purdy. “This is our starting point.”
Solutions for a Better Dover seeks to improve the community by addressing issues in four areas: beautification, community events, tourism, and business development. Attendees listed town beautification as one of the most important concerns, citing issues with litter and trash removal from local roadways. To address this issue, organizers began to organize teams of volunteers for refuse removal. Also discussed were organizing a cleanup of the nearby Ten Mile River and aesthetic improvements to the Dover train station.
On the subject of community events, participants had numerous ideas regarding possible programs for the community to implement. Among the suggestions were a summer concert series at Boyce Park, establishing a community bingo game, a car show featuring classic and modern automobiles, and a Box Wars competition where teams construct armor out of cardboard. People also expressed interest in rejuvenating Dover’s holiday decorations, possibly by holding a contest for residents and businesses.
The group next sought ideas to attract tourism to the Dover area. In addition to the close proximity to the Appalachian Trail, officials believe that the area could promote guided tours of local attractions such as the Stone Church and the local firehouse. Also discussed were ideas to promote vacation packages where visitors could purchase train tickets and lodging for one price.
Finally, Solutions for a Better Dover addressed the issue of business development. An oft-discussed issue among Dover citizens is the town’s lack of grocery store. To help fill this void, group members suggested the establishment of a food co-op, where residents would be able to purchase produce and products from local farms. While not an actual grocery store, the co-op would still begin to help fill the void left by the lack of a traditional store. Residents also discussed the possibility of implementing a Sunday Farmer’s Market, an idea that was received positively by those in attendance.
Solutions for a Better Dover established a solid foundation for future community development. Most important, residents have shown a willingness to join together and arrive at plausible solutions to some of the issues facing the Dover community. “Dennis, Jane, and I were blown away by the energy and motivation of the more than forty people who attended the kickoff meeting,” said co-organizer Fieldstein. “We loved the enthusiasm and all the input from our neighbors who have such diverse backgrounds and experiences. We are very excited about building a sense of community and finding solutions for a better Dover.” Co-organizer Meunier was also encouraged by the spirited initial reaction. “Solutions for a Better Dover is all about community,” she said, “We will have the energy, strength and manpower to bring to life so many of the great ideas Doverites have to improve our beautiful town.”