As a commercial property owner, concerned for the downtown and its merchants, I write to express my ever growing concern that the Main Street project is “plowing forward” to be completed this year in spite of the mountain of uncertainties.
To move ahead without detailed plans for all possible uncertainties is irresponsible. It risks intolerable delays, including the discouragement and elimination of traffic on Main Street for extended periods and forcing small business to close for lack of business. In anticipation, several businesses have already announced they are shutting their doors. Sadly, once people are forced to go elsewhere to shop and dine they form new loyalties and will likely be years before the downtown again becomes viable.
Instead of moving this worthwhile project ahead because the committee and selectmen are anxious to do so after an extended period of planning, it should be delayed until the removal and replacement of every surface from one side of the street to the other; sidewalks, curbing and the street itself can possibly done in stages, and over a longer period of time so pedestrian and vehicle traffic is not excessively disrupted or eliminated.
At the very least, plans should be developed with the assistance of a reliable contractor or consultant who has hands on experience in streetscape construction, and these plans carefully coordinated with detailed plans for alternative parking and retention of the events that have helped make the downtown successful; the farmers market, the road race and others.
To proceed without this critical planning will almost certainly to result in beautifully rebuilt downtown, one lacking the shops, restaurants, and the customers to support them, not to mention the employees, owners and their contributions to the community’s tax base.
Chester Properties, LLC