The Town of Old Saybrook announced the Economic Development Commission will be purchasing 20 Adirondack chairs to “provide support for restaurants and provide additional seating,” according to Susie Beckman, economic development director for Old Saybrook. The chairs will be placed on the town green.
“This is a concept that I had seen a couple of years ago that worked in another town where they were just doing some placemaking,” said Beckman. “By just adding some conversational areas with Adirondack chairs, it encouraged people to come and sit.”
To start, the commission will arrange 20 chairs in four groups of five to discourage larger groups from sitting down in order to abide by the social distancing protocols. Beckman said that Saybrook Hardware will provide the town with a small discount on the purchase, bringing the total cost per chair to $20.
“People want scenic seating areas,” said Carol Conklin, vice chair of the commission. “It would be nice for people to do takeout and sit and have scenery.”
Beckman also acknowledged the challenges of making this space safe and available for all residents during the coronavirus pandemic. “When you have different groups of people coming in and using the chairs, we recommend that people would clean them before they use them.”
David Cole, a member of the commission, questioned whether it would be advisable to leave out that many chairs. “We’ve had some of those chairs, they’re dirty, but also in a windstorm, they blow around.”
Beckman acknowledged Cole’s concerns, stating that the chairs are “pretty light and they’re easy to take,” but are sturdy enough to hold 150 pounds. She suggested wiring the chairs together into groups of five to make it difficult for someone to steal the chairs. Beckman added that it could be helpful to use the wire to anchor them to the ground.
“It’s a great way to draw people downtown and create community,” said Chair Matthew Pugliese. “It could help create a feeling of community even when we don’t have the same kind of restaurant capacity, or the same types of events going on the green on a regular basis.”
Annemarie LePard is a journalism student at Hofstra University and a summer intern at CT Examiner.