My name is Shane and I'm the new Main Street Program manager here in Woonsocket. I'm a regular reader of Woon's Patch and know there's a lot of people in the "Patchosphere" who love this city and get really excited when events/efforts etc. with a positive, Woon-loving perspective come onto the scene. Knowing this, I thought I would let you guys know about the Main Street Program. It's a great project with very pro-Woonsocket objectives continuing the long line of "Main Street Revitalization" style efforts by other great groups. I thought this blog would be a great way to connect with those of you who would like to get involved as well as post updates regarding the status of the project as it moves forward.
So, I'll start with some introduction info. The project is part of a greater effort known as "Our Neighborhoods" which concentrates on the Fairmount, Constitution Hill, and Main Street areas of Woonsocket. You can find more information on this effort by clicking here, here, and here. The project itself is the result of a collaboration of many community focused partners. Just for clarification purposes, I feel it's important to point out the project is not run by the city of Woonsocket, but they are one of our valuable partners.
Some of the objectives include:
- Promote use of downtown as the destination district in the heart of our community.
- Retain current and recruit new businesses to create a healthy balance and variety of retail, professional and service entities.
- Showcase the vitality of arts and cultural venues, unique businesses, and the heritage of downtown Woonsocket, which will add to the quality of life for residents and visitors.
- Maintain an environment with green spaces, public art, well-designed window displays, and convenient access for visitors.
- Promote historic preservation and development of buildings and infrastructure through second-use projects, upper story renovation, facade improvement, mixed-use development, and new construction.
- Enhance partnerships among the public and private sectors: retail, culture, service and hospitality.
- Promote pedestrian and bicycle traffic on Main Street .
As you can see, the project has some great goals. They're also very ambitious, but the best ones usually are. Sounds great huh? If you're like me, you've often hoped "somebody" would do this kind of thing...well, now someone is. I'm really excited about it and hope you are as well.
The Main Street district itself consists of more than just Main Street. It runs off Main St. up River over to Railroad St., includes Cherry St., parts of N. Main (up to Snow St), and continues up Worrall St./Truman Drive until it runs back into Main St. I know that can be hard to picture, so I've attached an image to make it easier. If you know the area, you know the potential. You're even more excited now, aren't you? I know, I know.
OK, so we're hitting the ground running and already have some plans I'd like to bring all of you Woonsocket lovers in on. I've already started my efforts to get to know the merchants in the district, gather data, connect businesses with professional services, and continue the beautification efforts. This last part, the beautification, is the perfect opportunity for community members to get involved (there are, of course, other ways as well - see the section below about prettying up vacant spaces). I'm attempting to put together a collection of green spaces in the district that'll make great "spots" to relax, converse, read, enjoy the beauty of the surroundings, etc. Kind of like "mini-parks" or "urban oases". This kind of thing is very possible, but requires a team as opposed to an individual. I'd like you to become a part of this team. We would set up formalized events to tackle these spots for the initial "transformations" and then we could all help with the maintenance steps on our own time. Essentially, we would all have a direct and ongoing impact on our immediate environment. We don't have to daydream anymore, we don't have to wait around and wish "someone" would "do something", we could do it ourselves. We could bring our friends and family with us while we do it. Sounds great huh? I'm smiling just thinking about it.
The next space we're going to tackle is the green space framing the parking lot between Beacon Charter High School and Ciro's Tavern on Cherry. It's currently scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Sept. 21 and 22 starting at 10 am. We're going to clean up the overgrowth and go from there. I'll post a notice in the volunteer section regarding this as well.
Want to get started before then? I have some other spaces we could work on...just let me know you're interested by leaving a message on my "board" or by commenting below (I'll sift through the negative comments to find you. LOL. Can you tell I've been a Patch reader for a while?)
Also, if you're a building owner in the district there are other aspects of the beautification we can implement. I want to work with you to "pretty up" the vacant spaces in the district (or even the occupied ones)...particularly first floor units. I have some partners on board who are willing to help with things like window art and possibly contribute some sweat equity in process of making the spaces more attractive if we're willing to help them with some space needs as well. The ultimate in community members helping each other for mutual benefit. We could get together and discuss other ideas as well, just contact me. We need to meet anyway if we haven't already (when you contact me, ask me about the "Main Street Open House" idea).
If you're a business owner, please contact me as well. I'd love your help supporting some Main Street events and I'd love to help you grow your business in any way I can. Many of you have already met me and some of my friends from the RISBDC. The rest of you will be meeting them very soon. They have great tools (and FREE!!!) for small businesses and are just one of the resources I want to connect you with.
Okay, that's probably enough info for an introductory blog. If any of you (Building Owner, Business Owner, or just plain Woonsocket Lover) have questions, just ask...or better yet, show up on the 21st and 22nd and join the team. When you get there, just ask for Shane...I'm the chubby thirty-something with a head full of dreams and a heart for Woonsocket.
See you soon. Until next post,