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Woonsocket's Main Street Efforts Continue; Provide Opportunity for Action

Awesome program looking for awesome people!

 Hi Patchers! 

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,

Shane

 

               

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Steve September 06, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Shane, quick question, do you actually live in Woonsocket, because if you do, you should have probably known about the condition of some of the "residential" properties there. Good luck with those..... And for these "volunteers" you're looking for, is this private property that you're asking them to clean up? The area you're suggesting is part of the Charter School right (a parking lot with signs designating it as such)? Aren't they responsible upkeep Just asking............
melissa saint September 07, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Mark me down =)
MainStreetWoon September 07, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Yes, we enjoy helping our local proprietors...especially in these tough times. Yes, I'm a local. I'm a Wonsocket Rocket!
MainStreetWoon September 07, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Sounds great Melissa. I'll see you there!
MainStreetWoon September 07, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Beacon and Ciro's know about the idea and will be helping as well.
A September 08, 2012 at 01:23 PM
How old do the volunteers have to be? My 14 year old son loves doing stuff like this and is also in the JROTC program and they do community service.
Brian O'Ryan September 08, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Main Street has improved in recent years. But, there is a LONG way to go. How about getting rid of the store fronts with all the junk in their windows. Looks like a week long yard sale to me. How much revenue could those places really be bringing in anyway? More cafe's and family friendly shops would be great. Vino's and The Cakery really helped to improve the feel of Main Street. Bring in more of that please!
Steve September 08, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Shane, good to know you're from Woonsocket. So at least your heart is in the right place. Honestly though, I have a real problem asking volunteers to clean up or straighten out private or public properties. (Not to mention the liabilities) It seems to me by asking volunteers to take on this obligation is perpetuating the negligence the real owners have and the responsibility of keeping these private and public properties up to par. This seems to be a common belief now a days, neglect it, and volunteers will come to get it right. How about some of these volunteers work or make a donation to the Woonsocket Cat shelter on Diamond Hill Rd., the Woonsocket Animal shelter, or maybe helping out some of the homeless in the city, at least then, I don't believe they'll be wasting their time covering up for some else's negligence. Just my two cents worth........ Idea: You want to clean up Main St. in a hurry, get rid of the bus stop under the bridge across the street from Chan’s, now that will be an accomplishment!
Russell Archambault September 08, 2012 at 06:49 PM
some of the store front shops may never be rented again because of the blight in that area. Dont know if ocupencys are required for artist to use the store fronts without paying rent, to do their work. not to sell from, only to paint while people can watch. people love to see artist do their work. this sugesstion is only a thought to build on. its possible ! this type of situation would bring interest to the area then there would be small shops comiing in a little at a time.
MainStreetWoon September 11, 2012 at 03:26 PM
I love to see people getting involved in their community at a young age. I'd be a little wary of having an unsupervised minor around...just for safety/liability reasons, but I suppose I could make up a liability waiver of some sort for you guys to sign off on. His JROTC friends are more than welcome as well.
MainStreetWoon September 11, 2012 at 03:30 PM
I understand your point regarding accountability, but I think the extra hand/sweat equity/reduced labor cost provided by volunteer squads often makes possible efforts an owner wants to implement but are unable to afford themselves (especially right now). So far though we've had great participation by both public and private owners of the properties we're targeting. The shelters are a worthy time investment as well!
MainStreetWoon September 11, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Great observations Brian. Those are actually some of our goals.
MainStreetWoon September 11, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Another great idea. As we meet with more building owners, we can suggest this type of thing.
A September 12, 2012 at 08:46 PM
I would be more than happy to stay with him and help out. =)
MainStreetWoon September 16, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Sounds great A...see you there!
English first September 16, 2012 at 08:00 PM
If each property owner on Main Street would go out and take a photo of their property , fix it up a bit and take an after shot this would help. There needs to be pride in ones own establishment. Send in the street sweeper and get a few power washers to clean the sidewalks. And by the way. Let one of the artist groups get together and paint under the overpass where the bus stop is. It is dark and dingy. Bus riders deserve a bit of brightness in their day also.
Russell Archambault September 16, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Great idea EF. lets tag every wall in woonsocket, with a bunch of ethnic .....murals.
English first September 16, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Russ. There used to be a great mural on the side of City Hall showing the "old" McCarthys Department Store. Also I like the one that welcomed you in French on the side of the building where the tatoo parlor is(I think ). Are they the ethnic types you mean?
Russell Archambault September 16, 2012 at 11:48 PM
EF there have been many great murals on main street through the years, the problem is that after years of the extreme elements they become more of a look of decay. Revitalizing main street by painting murals is not the way to go.Most of them are actually cheap looking. To add to your suggestion of the 2 underpasses on main street, the best solution would be to pressure wash them. the granite blocks would look beautiful as they were when installed. EF i will leave the ethnic mural on main street alone. Keep in mind we are all ethnic, in case anyone accuses me of discrimination
Matt M Tavern September 18, 2012 at 04:33 AM
Shane...thanks for the support with Main Street (between Beacon & Ciros). As mentioned, R&L Landscaping will be assisting the team...good to have them on board! In response to Steve, he made a good point on helping the homeless and I have done things for them. If they are interested in more, I always give them first look at bottles avoid diving in dumpsters, trade labor for food and drink, give supplies and sometimes quick cash. If he knows of any that are willing to help; I would be happy to assist. See you later in the week! Matt M.
English first September 18, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Power washing is great. I haven't seen any murals on Main Street that look "cheap" Perhaps they do need to be freshened up.We have the talent to do it in our young people in the city. Many have won prizes for their artistic skills. But I think you backstep with your comment on "ethnic murals"
Doctor September 18, 2012 at 12:52 PM
To create a successful Main Street environment four elements must be present (1) Ample Parking, (2) Variety of Different Markets to Shop, (3) Security and Safety for Shoppers and Business Owners, and (4) Clean and Attractive Area.
MainStreetWoon September 18, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Great points Dr. Looks like someone has looked into this stuff before, huh? We'd love to have you on board.
MainStreetWoon September 18, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Way to go R&L Landscaping!!! This is going to be great!! Looking forward to seeing you Matt!!
MainStreetWoon September 18, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Countdown to next Beautification Project: 3 Days Dates: 9/21 and 9/22 at 10am Place: Lot between Beacon Charter High School and Ciro's Tavern. See you all there!
MainStreetWoon September 21, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Look like we're going to have a nice, cool day for our efforts this morning! It should be partly cloudy with a chance of rain later in the day. Same tomorrow actually. Thank our lucky stars!!
Cheryl-Amy Casey September 21, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Wow! All valid points and please let high school students know so they can do the hours to graduate! And since its their city ask them what they think and maybe fbla to support the high school! Lots of ideas!! Enjoy and thanks again Shane!
Jeffrey Austin September 22, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Go, Shane!
English first September 22, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Perhaps Mount Saint Charles wants to do some community service hours or the scout troops in town.
English first November 04, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Or maybe not?

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