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Gaschurn , Vorarlberg, Austria

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Gaschurn is a municipality in Montafon, is 979 metres above sea level and is divided into the towns Gaschurn and Partenen. The inhabitant development is slightly declining, at the moment there are 1,622 inhabitants. This is to be counteracted with new housing estates. Numerous second homes are proof of the area’s attractiveness for tourists and the share of earnings per inhabitant is significantly higher than the average for the region. The farming acreage is mostly run as a sideline.

Village renewal began in 2002 and included significant activating processes for citizen participation. In a comprehensive overall concept, with professional help, themes were developed such as building and living, town centre-town image, family, childcare, youth, leisure, work, seniors and tourism and also Agenda 21 themes . During these processes there were public events, analysis workshops and a goal retreat. The result was passed by the municipal council. Based on the overall concept working group projects were developed and have been partially implemented. Initially the participation of the population proved to be difficult but in the meantime works very well.

Numerous measures could be cited that have already been realised in the area of “family-oriented municipalities” Along with the re-location of the kindergarten, the arrangement of summer care for children, the introduction of a season ticket for swimming pools and the creation of a youth room for which they are personally responsible, especially impressive was the new Mountain Beach Park with a reed filter area and various water levels that are connected by water channel.

The marketing of local products and the development of the pleasure region Montafon attracts great attention within the tourism concept of Hochmontafon. The construction of a landscape trail Gaschurn-Partenen, that fits well into the landscape, a climbing park as well as an illuminated bike trail and a new sports field round off the diversity of implemented projects .

Special attention was paid to the renovation of old structures as is proven by the Bishop Rüdiger birth house. Proof of high quality contemporary construction is provided by the Vallüla hall, the open air swimming pool and a housing estate. The town was planned to make it inviting and to a large extent handicapped accessible.

Another focus was in the area of renewable energy. The 25 percent solar aid from the municipality should be especially emphasized. Gaschurn has at its disposal a biomass heating plant with 3 MW capacity that supplies public and private buildings. A buffer storage covers peak periods. A drinking water plant provides additional energy.

In the framework of a cross-municipality co-operation amongst others the association “Montafon Tourism” should be mentioned, that has as its goal the development of the region in accord with man and nature. Also „Viehbay“ was founded, a platform for marketing agricultural products. The foundation of the economic community Hochmontafon, a consortium of 45 companies, should strengthen the regional awareness. The communal regional planning is integrated into the planning board Montafon, the use of local public transport is promoted by a region map and a night express.

Gaschurn impresses with its remarkable activities and projects in all significant areas of village development that are characterised by activating processes for citizen participation and professional assistance. Exemplary measures are noted in particular in the areas of renewable energy, renovation of old building structures with simultaneous promotion of contemporary forms, social and socio-cultural facilities and the promotion and interweaving of farming, commerce and tourism. As a whole they contribute to a significant improvement in the quality of life and to a strengthening of the regional identity. For this Gaschurn was awarded a „European Village Renewal Award for sustainable, holistic and motto-adequate Village Development of excellent quality“.