'Under the Strawberry Moon' celebrates walkable downtown Glastonbury

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Glastonbury - posted Wed., Jun. 26, 2013
Brian Costa of Max Fish prepares a jumbo lump crab cake for Laura to serve to a hungry customer. Photos by Annie Gentile.
Brian Costa of Max Fish prepares a jumbo lump crab cake for Laura to serve to a hungry customer. Photos by Annie Gentile.

The eighth annual “Under the Strawberry Moon – A Taste of Glastonbury,” held Saturday, June 22, was an evening of relaxed elegance. As in the seven years prior, for one magical night, a portion of Main Street and Hebron Avenue were closed to traffic, allowing visitors to comfortably stroll through the streets, sample a variety of good food and wine from area restaurants, dine outdoors at white-clothed tables adorned with bright red geraniums or relax in the park, and enjoy music, food and good conversation.

The event is presented each year by the Town Center Initiative, a non-partisan group of Glastonbury citizens that advocates for a more vital and walkable town center. It is one of a handful of events that the TCI sponsors in order to create an atmosphere of community and to foster the idea of walkability downtown - a key component of any vital town center.

“We conducted a study of the downtown area and our preliminary findings were that fully one-third of ground floor businesses in the downtown area require either an appointment or membership to visit them,” said Dan Schnaidt, TCI’s planning advocacy chair. Schnaidt said it is walk-in retail businesses, however, that create the greatest foot traffic in any downtown, and it might benefit the community if they could establish an agreement to reserve ground floor rental space for retail businesses. “A business improvement district might take that on,” he said.

Rachel Blatt, also a member of the Town Center Initiative and part of the design committee, said that because about 40 percent of businesses have heavily reserved parking, visitors to the downtown feel compelled to move their cars, which only creates more vehicular traffic. “If we had a coordinated district, we might be able to collectively manage parking,” explained Blatt.

The TCI has some lofty long- and short-term goals for the downtown area, and the Taste of Glastonbury as an event helps to meet a goal by generating foot traffic in the Town Center, if only for an evening. Generating that much-desired, long-term foot traffic may need to be part of an overall design which might include widening sidewalks, improving side- and cross-walk connections, and creating shared parking.

For many, however, who came or participated in the downtown event, it was simply an opportunity to showcase the menu their restaurants have to offer, to try new foods and see what the town has to offer, and to simply get out and have some fun.

“This is a great community event,” said Margaret Lacroix, who was found feeding her grandson bits of pasta and meatballs at one of the many tables set up at the intersection of Main Street and Hebron Avenue. “It’s just a wonderful thing.”

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