Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Town's Namesake

The Windsor Locks Canal is a very unique feature of the community with an amazing history. A major initiative for Main Street revitalization is to once again open up viewsheds of this historic canal and possibly find access to its southern end. A 4.5 mile bike/walking trail exists from just north of the 140 Bridge leading to just short of the 190 Bridge in Suffield. Check out these links:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ahlstrom Figures Prominently in Windsor Locks Main Street

The Ahlstrom Corportation has a major presence in downtown Windsor Locks. Ahlstom which succeeded the Dexter Corporation in operating a manufacturing facility on the banks of the Connecticut River and along the Windsor Locks Canal has made substantial investments in their plant in the last several years and is one of Windsor Locks' major employers. Several of the recommendations in the Windsor Locks Main Street Master Planning Study and subsequent planning efforts include items relevant to Ahlstrom. For instance, it is recommended that some additional study be done regarding extending the Windsor Locks Canal State Park Trail through the Ahlstrom complex. A vegetation management plan is currently being developed by Ferrero-Hixon and Associates to try and open up more views of the Connecticut River, Ahlstrom and the Windsor Locks Canal. It has also been suggested to utilize the utility bridge to install a Windsor Locks sign. Meetings have been held with Ahlstrom officials who are eager to engage in the community. Several Ahlstrom employees have participated in Main Street clean-up efforts.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

History of Memorial Hall

Memorial Hall is a beautiful structure and an asset to Windsor Locks Main Street. The building could be a catalyst for revitalization of the downtown area. For information on the history of this significant building visit http://www.chs.org/ransom/134.htm.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Best in Show Pet Spa is now open at 252B Main Street. Best in Show offers the finest in pet grooming services in a convenient location. They use all natural, biodegradable shampoos and professional grooming techniques for all breeds of dogs, or to the client's personal taste. Walk-ins are welcome. Contact Jason Charette at 386-0590 or Bestinshowpetspa@att.net

63 South Main Street

Great space available at 63 South Main Street (Former Buckley Insurance). 2,000 s.f. can be subdivided to two 1,000 s.f. spaces. Separate meters. Ample parking. Close to highway interchange. Contact Bobby at 841-1150.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Windsor Locks Wayfinding Signage Program

The Windsor Locks Signage and Wayfinding Project was a natural extension of the Main Street planning effort that has been underway in the community over the last three years. In fact, enhanced signage and wayfinding was a recommendation of the Main Street Master Planning Study prepared by Ferrero-Hixon Associates that was partially funded through a Preservation of Place Grant and completed in May 2008. For this signage project we continued the services of Ferrero-Hixon Associates due to the success of the initial planning effort and their knowledge of the Main Street area. Ferrero-Hixon conducted extensive research to determine best practices related to wayfinding programs and have developed unique designs for Windsor Locks that are rooted in its history. They have identified appropriate locations for both primary signage and secondary signage with the help of the Economic and Industrial Development Commission. They have developed a unique insignia of "WL" that depicts the front of a locomotive that can be an identified sign/logo for Main Street and the community as a whole. This insignia can be used on signage, banners, promotional items, e-newsletters and more. They have begun a conversation with DOT and hopefully we can convince DOT to allow the preferred color option over their standard green or blue signage. DOT approvals will be necessary as several of the identified signage locations are within the state right-of-way.

There were several goals for this project. First, we wanted to better demarcate the "downtown" area. Windsor Locks has a very unique and challenging issue related to this as we basically have a one-sided Main Street. Nonetheless, we believe that there is a core area that can be better identified through signage and landscaping methods. Second, we wanted to highlight several interesting assets that exist in the Main Street area - primary among them is the Windsor Locks Canal State Park Trail. We worked with the Department of Environmental Protection's State Parks Division and DOT to get signage to direct people to the State Park Trail. Wayfinding signage will also direct people to the other historical and outdoor recreation venues we have. An overarching goal is to take some of our underutilized assets and make them more engaging and vital to the health of the entire Main Street area. Third, a new signage program will visually enhance the Main Street area which would be a source of pride to residents and an attraction to visitors. Finally, our program will not only cater to the motoring public traveling along Main Street but we hope to incorporate elements that appeal to and inform pedesrians and bicyclists as well. So we are including pedestrian kiosks in this planning study. These kiosks can be used to help publicize events, provide maps and brochures, as well as to keep people informed about revitalization efforts along Main Street.

A public forum was held to receive input on the signage program as well as to update residents on Main Street initiatives. Ferrero-Hixon described the wayfinding system and showed the three different design options and lo-and-behold there was no consensus on the preferred design as those in attendance were evenly split on the three options. The consensus we did receive is that residents would be happy with any of the three designs. We will continue to see public feedback on the designs before making an ultimate selection. Residents were very impressed with the "WL" insignia that Ferrero-Hixon developed.

Anyone interested in getting the full signage report on disk can send an e-mail to wleidc@sbcglobal.net with the name and address.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Revitalizing America's Train Stations

Amtrak had developed a new website entitled Great American Stations with information on how to revitalize historic train stations. Click here to visit the website.

Windsor Locks in Plans for New Haven-Springfield Commuter Rail

Windsor Locks is slated to be a stop on the New Haven-Springfield Commuter Rail Line - including a bus link to Bradley International Airport. Click on the following links for more information:

Video for the project

Newsletter for the project

Website for the project

Relocation of Amtrak Stop Investigated

One of the major recommendations from the Main Street Master Planning Study was the relocation of the train stop from the outskirts of downtown back into the heart of Main Street. The proposal is to move the train stop to north of the historic train station in the vicinity of the Amtrak maintenance yard. We have had several meetings with Amtrak and ConnDOT officials regarding this recommendation. The relocation largely hinges upon signalization and preemption issues. At a Town Meeting on July 7, 2009 residents voted to move forward with hiring a nationally recognized expert on these issues, Rick Campbell and his team from Campbell Technology Corporation, to review the Route 159/Route 140 intersection and provide valuable feedback as to the feasibility of relocating the train station.
The scope of the work will include:
  • Site visit to current train stop and proposed relocation site;
  • Review of existing plans (preemption, crossing warning, traffic signals);
  • Develop recommendations;
  • Meet with Town, DOT and Amtrak officials; and
  • Prepare executive summary and technical memorandum outlining findings and recommendations.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Short Term Aesthetic Recommendations

Ferrero-Hixon has prepared a series of short-term, relatively low cost enhancements and preliminary budget items that the Town, businesses and residents can pursue, including amongst other things:
  • Install additional street trees in vicinity of public senior housing ($11,250);
  • Relocate existing donation containers from the Walter Bass property to another less visible location:
  • Add some street trees north of the historic train station and place a series of graphic boards highlighting the downtown and possibly pave a 25' strip for a clean edge ($38,650);
  • Scrape and paint all exterior trim on the historic train station and put graphics boards in the windows ($11,640);
  • Provide banners and flags on street lights on the 140 Bridge ($3,200);
  • Hanging flower boxes on the Canal Bridge($350);
  • Place fountain with lighting on both sides of canal bridge providing a gateway to the Town Center ($10,00);
  • Use Algonquin power smokestakes for some graphic identifying landmark;
  • Encourage Ahlstrom to replicate their histogram on the exterior of their building or along canal and provide tours of their operation;
  • Paint existing overhead pipes at Ahlstrom and develop and mount a Windsor Locks sign ($12,000);
  • Replace existing flower pots with 30 substantial rectagular planters ($36,000);
  • Work with Dexter Plaza ownership for use of the parking lot for a Farmers Market or other activities/events that would draw people;
  • Install ornamental street lighting along western side of Route 159 ($4,000 each);
  • Waterside Village facade improvements ($49,180);
  • Add perennial plantings in existing street tree pits for sustainable seasonal color ($760); and
  • String white lights on existing street trees.

Funding could be a mix of donations, town funds, grant funds and in-kind services.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What should the historic train station be used for?

The Windsor Locks Preservation Association is seeking to acquire the historic station from Amtrak. The organization has been in negotiations with Amtrak for over a year and there is no clear indication of the status of the acquisition. The historic structure is in great need of attention as the elements are taking their toll. The restoration of this historic asset is a key to the revitalization of the Main Street area. Hopefully we will see progress in the near future.

Assuming control of the building and ultimate restoration, what uses would you propose for the building?