Town Hall spruce-up to kick off Main Street revitalization

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Jewett City - posted Mon., Jul. 25, 2011
Griswold Town Hall's facade is slated for a landscape upgrade to make it more inviting. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Griswold Town Hall's facade is slated for a landscape upgrade to make it more inviting. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

A new, pedestrian-friendly town hall property with trees, benches and plantings will be the focal point of the Main Street revitalization plan’s first phase in Jewett City.

Landscape architect Brian Kent of Kent+Frost of Mystic unveiled plans for the project July 20 at the Griswold Economic Development Commission’s meeting. The plan, funded by a $200,000 Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant, is designed to make Main Street more inviting to people shopping, dining or strolling.

Kent said that, besides being unfriendly to pedestrians, Main Street currently has no unifying theme and lacks green spaces. People perceive that parking is a problem downtown, even though there is plenty of parking space available, he said.

Phase one of the plan would put coordinating planters and benches at various spots along Main Street, along with trash receptacles. Since many of the sidewalks are too narrow to allow for trees, planters designed to hug the walls of storefronts would bring in a welcome touch of green, he said.

Also in the plan are news racks, bicycle racks and possibly an information kiosk. Banners and flags would also be installed on existing fixtures along the bridges and roads that serve as entrances to Main Street.

Kent said the intersection of Routes 138 and 12 is the primary gateway to Jewett City, where drivers are greeted by the asphalt parking lot in front of Town Hall.

“The best place to demonstrate that Griswold is interested in revitalizing downtown is the front of Town Hall,” said Kent. He proposed reconfiguring the parking area in front of town hall, creating a mini-park with benches and trees, an information kiosk, a trash receptacle and other plantings.

Kent said that the parking spaces in front of town hall would be reduced from the present 11 to 6. “I think we can reconfigure the parking spaces behind the building so there’s no net loss,” he said. Parking alongside the library driveway would be unaffected, he said.

Bike racks, colorful beds of annual flowers and possibly decorative paving, including the town seal set into the sidewalk, are other options for the space, said Kent.

The re-do of Town Hall’s property could serve as a spark for business owners and other property owners on Main Street to see what’s possible, he said.

Kent’s proposal would cost about $66,950 from the grant funds, not including installation costs. First Selectman Phil Anthony said that town work crews could install the fixtures to save money.

Jamie Caporaso of Griswold NOW, a local business organization, offered the group’s help in planting and maintaining the planters.

Looking further down the road, Kent encouraged the planting of trees where room permits, the installation of more aesthetically-pleasing lighting, and clearer marking for crosswalks.

Commission members and town officials said that the first phase of the project could be completed by October, once the Main Street Steering Committee selects a style for the street furniture. While most of the items would probably be purchased and installed this fall, planters and banners might not go out onto the sidewalks till spring.

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