Saturday, October 13, 2007

What is the community’s future vision for its Main Street area?

As you visualize a successful Main Street area in the future what qualities or characteristics will it possess – how will it look, feel and function?

What does the community identify as its downtown and why is downtown important to the Windsor Locks Community?

What are the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (S.W.O.T analysis) for the Windsor Locks Main Street area?

We invite you to begin to think about these questions so as to help guide appropriate planning and enhancement efforts on the part of the Town, its Boards and Commissions, local civic and non-profit organizations, and interested residents.

We are currently in the process of selected a firm with design and planning capabilities to help develop a strategic master plan for the Main Street area.

Why develop a strategic master plan?
  • We have a mile-long primarily one-sided Main Street.
  • We have an important small business and commercial district with approximately 70 establishments calling this area home.
  • We have Town Hall, the Public Library, a school, the Post Office, and a Senior Center in this area.
  • We have the Windsor Locks Canal Trail along the Connecticut River and Pesci Park for residents to enjoy.
  • We have hundreds of residents living in a wide range of housing types within walking distance of these businesses, government and community facilities and recreational venues.
  • We have historical assets such as the old Amtrak Station, the Montgomery Building and Memorial Hall.

So how do we tie these all together into a cohesive whole? Are there any pieces to the puzzle missing?

Feel free to submit suggestions, recommendations and comments via this blog or you can send an e-mail to We will keep you posted as to future community forums on this topic.


EIDC said...

Please post your comments that we will share with the selected consultant.

Chris Kervick said...

I. Strengths. A.The Connecticut River. We have spent 20 years cleaning up this resource. It is beautiful, clean and provides untapped recreational and asthetic opportunities. B.The canal and riverfront industries. A barely exploited historical resource. A gem that we practically ignore. C.High Traffic. Thousands of people come through WL every day. This means that intelligent commercial uses can thrive.

II. Weaknesses. A.Access to the canal. We must break through the Amtrak barrier. B.We have to recover from many years of neglect, inactivity and lack of vision. C. Current Residential Uses not ideal. Low income housing laws need to be revamped. There are many good people living in dangerous situations because current housing law makes it almost impossibe to evict troublesome tenants. D.Dexter Plaza. Just plain sad.

III. Opportunities. A.Sell our history. It is unique, it is important and it is marketable. B.The River. We need to reconnect to it in any way we can. C. The canal trail. Especially if we can link it with an East/West trail along Kettle Brook. D.Light Rail. Gas isn't getting any cheaper. Light rail along existing rail bed from Hartford, through Windsor, Windsor Locks and then making a candy cane turn through Suffield and terminating at Airport is a no-brainer. The right of ways are already there.

IV. Threats. A.The further deterioration of the canal. If it caves in, we lose this historical gem forever. Without the canal, we lose our unique selling principal. B.Lack of Vision. There is no such thing as standing still. Either we move forward or we will continue to move back.
C.Lack of Pride. One can graduate from the Windsor Locks School system without ever having learned about the canal, about our leadership role in the industrial revolution, our dynamic immigration heritage, or our history as the hub of Catholicism in Western New England. Why? If we don't value our own history, how can we expect other to value it?

Blog is a great idea. Thank you for getting it going. More later.

Wayne Gannaway said...

Traffic calming is critical along the length of Main Street. A solution to help calm traffic should be considered in planning for Main Street.

The town government (through the Planning and Zoning Commission) needs to be more proactive in what new construction projects on Main Street ultimately look like. New construction needs to be sympathetic with the remaining historic structures on Main Street.

A design charrette involving both consultants, town government reps. and the public should be part of the process.

Thank you for starting this blog.

Wayne Gannaway said...

One strategic direction the town government can facilitate is making the Main Street ready for an extension of the commuter train. Regular pedestrian traffic getting on and off a commuter train (MTA and Amtrak) would create a demand for businesses and could encourage improvement of the canal and other historic/natural resources.

The Montgomery complex is a major character-defining feature of Main Street--it really is a hallmark of the New England mill town. It can be adaptively reused, despite challenges about traffic circulation, etc.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with everything that Chris and Wayne had to say. We need to take advantage of the canal and get access to the CT River. Maybe by making the Main St. area more walking/biking friendly would encourage people go to the Main St. area. The traffic definately has to less and slower. Whatever happens to the Montgomery Bldg., I would really like to see the metal signage they have on the roof top repaired and left there. It is part of Windsor Locks History. Also, cleaning up the litter on the track side of Main St. would make it more appealing.

Daryl Pease said...

The town of Windsor Locks is known as a starter home town. We desperately need to shed this image.
People that only live in town for a few years before they save enough money and move elsewhere do no vote and are not involved in community affairs. As a result, we have had weak town leaders through much of the '90's and early '00's. They were not exactly "cutting edge" First Selectman. I feel the current administration is now trying to play catch-up for the neglect they have inherited.
The core of any small town, such as Windsor Locks, starts with a vibrant Main Street.
My vision of Main Street Windsor Locks start with Dexter Plaza. Hopefully, we can invest with the current owner(s) or buy them out and re-configure that out-dated plaza.
I would like to see small coffee shops, sandwich shops (with outdoor patios), arts and crafts shops, clothing shops, ice cream shops, a hardware store, a book/ newspaper store, small business offices, etc. surrounding a state-of-the-art movie theatre. Build this new plaza around a town green with a gazeebo in the middle to enjoy concerts in the warmer months and an ice-skating rink for the winter months. Use the plot of land in back (between the middle school and the present building) as a municipal lot for parking.

This blog is a good idea. I hope you get alot of suggestions and can use them to make us feel proud of our Main Street.