Yes, it can seem like an artificially created resort town without much sense of history (or it did to me the two times I was there for business meetings). Nevertheless, AP makes a good point when noting that "unlike nearly every other growing town in New Hampshire, Waterville has remained compact rather than sprawling into the countryside. . . .
"Walking paths abound. A pedestrian tunnel lets walkers cross the highway without fear. The post office and shops are a natural gathering place. For those who can’t or don’t want to walk, businesses and the nearby ski resort have organized a shuttle bus. . . .
"A person can easily walk to the center of town from anywhere in this community."
That's definitely true. I went to Waterville Valley both times in someone else's vehicle, yet didn't feel the need for a car while I was there -- even the time I was on crutches.
This is a good article on smart-growth issues in New England (several other projects are mentioned) and worth a read, talking about the challenges as well as benefits -- and the fact that obviously, some homeowners will always want their own half-acre or acre+ in a conventional subdivision.
WHICH IS FINE. But those folks have plenty of choices in the suburbs west of Boston. And right now we seem to be reaching the traffic limit of how much more sprawl we can handle.