Tuesday, July 29, 2008

An Ella Grasso Museum for Windsor Locks?

Ella Grasso was born in the Main Street area at 12 Olive St. She attended St. Mary's School. She took the train from the historic train station to her inauguration as the first woman elected Governor of a state in her own right. The connection between Ella Grasso and her hometown of Windsor Locks runs deep. So why not celebrate her life and accomplishments and the mark she made on U.S. politics with a museum in Windsor Locks? Perhaps the historic train station could serve as a Windsor Locks Visitor's Center and Ella Grasso Museum. Perhaps there is another appropriate venue for such a museum. Who has memorabilia related to Ella Grasso that could be used launch the collection? How would such a museum be funded and operated? Heritage tourism is a big draw to communities and helps local economies. Could an Ella Grasso Museum help to revitalize the Main Street area?
Links of interest:

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Call to Civic Organizations and Church Groups

Calling all civic organizations and church groups - Please consider sponsoring at least one event in the Main Street area each year. In our efforts to revitalize Main Street, it is important to draw people to downtown. We need additional reasons for residents and visitors to come to the Main Street area besides our businesses and muncipal buildings. Partnering with area businesses would be a great idea. Use your imaginations, the types of events are many - carnivals, dog shows, art exhibitions, craft shows, black tie fundraisers, road races, clean-up days, kid's safety fairs, bridal shows, antique auto shows, parades, Sprng Jubilees, holiday bazaars, concerts, farmers markets, food festivals, halloween costume party, bike tour, Easter egg hunt, Italian fest, flea market wine tasting and so much more....

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Main Street Master Planning Final Report Available

Copies of the Main Street Master Planning Final Report are available for viewing at the First Selectman's Office at Town Hall and at the Windsor Locks Public Library.

If you would like a Final Report sent to you on a CD in pdf format then please send an e-mail to wleidc@sbcglobal.net with your name and mailing address.

Please remember to post any comments, questions or recommendations on this blog after you have had a chance to review the final report.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Feedback from Public on Preliminary Recommendations

The Town held two meetings to solicit feedback on the Main Street Master Planning Study. The first meeting included members of Town Boards and Commissions, as well as key stakeholders on Main Street. The second was open to the general public. At each, Chris Ferrero of Ferrero Hixon Associates presented a Power Point Presentation outlining the scope of the study, overall goals and an analysis of opportunities and constraints, as well as recommendations in the following areas: Regional, Land Use/Zoning, Recreation/Environmental, Market Assessment, Transportation, Sense of Place, Streetscape, Key Reinvestment Parcels and Sustainability.

We received the following feedback at the stakeholder meeting:

A member of the Windsor Locks Preservation Association asked about the establishment of Design Guidelines. He wanted to make sure there were some controls in place before any new buildings ever g0t constructed next to Memorial Hall (Ahlstrom Parking lot).

When is the commuter rail line expected to be in place? DOT is conducting environmental reviews now and expectation is that the rail line will be operation sometime around 2011.

One resident was concerned with the recommendation about narrowing roadway pavement. Mr. Ferrero weighed in that ultimately DOT has the say over roadway narrowing, that it would not impact the Level Of Service and that the Average Daily Traffic is really not significant.

A resident pointed out that there was an issue with the gates and that is why the train station was relocated. Mr. Ferrero mentioned the precedence of other stations in the state that are closer to the gates and that ultimately moving the station back closer to the historical stop would have to be vetted by Amtrak and DOT.

An attorney for Dexter Plaza had questions related to the impact on parking of a proposed shared parking scenario with Bickford, the Post Office and the Congregational Church as tenants like Ocean State need to be satisfied.

We received the following feedback at the public forum:

A question was raised as to what benefits do Windsor Locks residents get from improvements to the Suffield 190 bridge work and the 135 condos in the Montgomery complex? Mr. Ferrero spoke of the Canal trail being a draw to the downtown and that condos in the Montgomery complex would add up to 200 people to downtown who would utilize local businesses.

Are business/property owners on board? Mr. Ferrero outlined the meetings with Ahlstrom, Dexter Plaza and Montgomery developer. He shared the sentiments of Ahlstrom management that they would like to reconnect to the community.

How will improvements like the Dexter Plaza parking lot and other improvements be paid for? Mr. Ferrero commented that often public investment such as streetscaping can be a catalyst that spurs on private investment. He stated that the scope of the study was to make recommendations and that the implementation will require additional consideration.

A resident questioned how loud the “whistle and bells” would be from new trains.

A representative from the Friends of the Canal had a series of questions/concerns including why the need for a second track for the commuter rail. He cited Baltimore which operates on one track. He suggested to open the canal to boats once again. He pointed out that a cemetery exists (21 graves) in the vicinity of the rail that could be used to argue against a second track. He suggested a walking trail on the west side of the canal to the railroad bridge. He also suggested that a goal should be to have a continuous trail from Agawam, through Suffield and Windsor Locks and meeting up with trails in Windsor and ultimately Hartford.

A resident questioned the islands proposed on Main Street at the Bridge Street intersection. He said the intersection was improved to move traffic effectively and he did not want to see the flow of traffic impeded. Mr. Ferrero commented that any proposals would have to be approved by the State DOT and would have to meet their various roadway standards. Traffic calming is a goal of the study.

A member of the group trying to preserve the historic train station commented that the plan is supposed to be “visionary” and that though people may not agree with every recommendation it is important to take some baby steps in order to build momentum. She believes more greenery, beyond the flower pots, is needed in order to create a different perception.

Is there any remediation needed at the Montgomery Complex? Mr. Ferrero stated that the site is a brownfield and that the developer is dealing with remediation issues. It is common in these historic mill sites.

It was pointed out by one resident that congestion on Main Street is only part of the day and most of the time traffic is not a problem. Truck traffic can be an issue.

A member of Step Up Main Street suggested something like the Hudson River Institute (research institute) for the Montgomery building or an entertainment venue. Mr. Ferrero offered a recommendation to add a roof top restaurant to the Montgomery redevelopment.

One resident felt that residential for the Montgomery building would be a safety issue. He also would like to see public access to the CT River and commented that there is no boat ramp in town.

Another resident thought residential for Montgomery would be great and that sprinklers should be sufficient for any fire safety concerns.

Another suggestion was to establish a canal museum. Still another was to open up the south side of the Ahlstrom property in the vicinity of the locks and the historic looking Windsor Canal Company red building to the public. Keeping the vegetation maintained so the canal could be seen better is a great idea. Someone questioned who would maintain the vegetation since it is not under town control. Mr. Ferrero stated that we need to see exactly where the jurisdiction lines are for Ahlstrom, Amtrak and DOT and that maintenance by the Town may be the most effective.

Copies of the Consultants' Draft Report are available for viewing at the Windsor Locks Library and Town Hall.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Windsor Locks Canal Trail

The Friends of the Canal continue their efforts to improve the Windsor Locks Canal Trail. Residents of Windsor Locks, Suffield, Enfield, East Windsor and even Longmeadow, MA have joined together to improve this unique recreational asset which runs from Windsor Locks Town Center at the Montgomery Building to Canal Road in Suffield. The Friends are looking for active members to assist in their efforts. Yearly membership is only $25. Monthly progress reports are sent by e-mail. Contact the President, Steve Sorrow, at fireman05us@yahoo.com for more information.

As a result of a recommendation stemming from the Main Street Master Planning Study, the Town has opened a dialogue with the State of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection regarding restarting efforts towards the establishment of the Windsor Locks Canal State Park. A master plan for such a park was developed by the DEP in 1988.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Consultant Begins Pre-Planning Phase

Our consulting team is pouring over maps, reports, photos, and site plans provided to them by Town staff. They have conducted three site visits - one at the a.m. peak traffic hour, another at the p.m. peak hour, and finally a Saturday mid-day. They have met with a prospective developer of the Montgomery mill complex and representatives of the Dexter Plaza management firm. A meeting with Ahlstrom representatives will soon be scheduled. They are preparing base mapping and have begun formulating preliminary design concepts. One area of focus is the "municipal" campus made up of the library, Town and Hall and school with fields. How can we affectively connect those to Main Street? The consultant has also questioned whether it would be conceivable to return the Amtrak train station back to the heart of Main Street rather than its current location on the outskirts of the Main Street area. Once the preliminary plans are completed a public forum will be organized so stay tuned. Please share your comments on how Main Street can be enhanced.