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Springfield’s 2nd Annual Main Street Meet-Up

On Thursday, December 7th, friends, neighbors, and community leaders gathered in the Hartness House Ballroom for the 2nd Annual Main Street Meet-up. This new tradition, started by the Main Street Steering Committee, is an opportunity to update the general public about the many revitalization efforts that are currently underway in Springfield. The evening began with hors d’oeuvres and beverages as people mingled and examined displays of the Main Street Master Plan projects. Town Manager, Tom Yennerell, welcomed the crowd and gave a brief overview of the committee. “The Main Street Steering Committee was originally formed in order to help with the planning and development of the Main Street Master Plan. Once those plans were completed, the committee said ‘we need to continue to meet, to make sure these projects actually get done!’ and so we established a regular meeting on the third Wednesday of each month, and we continue to meet monthly to oversee ongoing projects and to make sure things keep moving.” Yennerell shared a list of action items the committee has accomplished so far, including acquisition of the Bakery Building and former VNA building, redesign of the town website, the securing of a Pedestrian Improvements Grant for work to be done on Main Street between Summer and Valley Streets, VNA Building demolition, work in progress with GFI consultants to develop a new riverside park at the former VNA site, exploration of a possible new parking structure and TIF district feasibility, and the completion of the “Music on Main Street” project (WiFi speakers that provide music for pedestrians downtown). Yennerell then went on to describe the committee’s short-term goals, which will include the Pedestrian Improvement Project in the summer of 2018, Bakery Building redevelopment, a refresh of the Cinema plaza, and continued work towards the new park. Longer term goals mentioned included Park Street School redevelopment, Community Center and Senior Center redevelopment, the Riverside walk from downtown to One Hundred River Street, 33 Park Street redevelopment, Town Hall plaza and parking lot improvements, and Clinton Street gateway/roundabout/road diet. A “Springfield Revitalization Fund” has been established, so that as fundraising efforts ramp up, donors can make tax-deductible contributions to the cause.

Yennerell introduced Bill Morlock of the Springfield Housing Authority, who talked about the Woolson Block redevelopment project, scheduled for completion in 2019, and the partnership with Springfield Regional Development Corporation (SRDC) and Springfield On the Move (SOM), involving a master lease, to ensure thriving retail businesses will fill the ground floor. Bob Flint, director of SRDC, shared a Park Street School development update, explaining that many moving parts and pieces are slowly coming together, and he’s cautiously optimistic that the initiative will continue to move forward. He also shared the fantastic news that Springfield School District is launching the first-in-Vermont school-wide computer science initiative for middle and high school students. The program will teach basic coding and also emphasize critical problem-solving skills. “Springfield is known for its history of innovation, and we’re proud to continue that trend with this latest initiative.” Caitlin Christiana, director of the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce, discussed another collaborative project involving promotional videos for Springfield. “This cooperative marketing effort started as a conversation between the Chamber, SRDC, and SOM. We recognized the growing need to market Springfield to attract workforce, businesses, and families, and so we decided to create several videos to showcase our community as a great place to live and work. We were happy to be able to hire local small business Indelible, Inc. to produce the ads, and we’ve been very impressed with their creativity.” Three short promotional videos are currently in production, one focusing on residential relocation, one focusing on business start-ups and relocation, and the third emphasizing the fantastic opportunities currently available to businesses in the downtown. The common thread between the three videos is Springfield’s lighting fast high-speed fiber internet. The project received $12,000 of support from the Town, as well as assistance from the Vermont Department of Marketing and Tourism, who will be assisting with ad placements online. The videos will then link to unique landing pages on the Chamber’s website, with specifics about opportunities, and who to contact for more information. The hope is that this will be just the first phase in a larger ongoing marketing campaign, with future videos to highlight other Springfield assets such as the hospital, the Tech Center, and recreation activities. Selectboard member Walter Martone gave a presentation on the history of the Bakery Building, and discussed the Town’s efforts to sell the property (for a very low price to the right buyer) and encourage business development in that space. The Meet-up was then opened up to the audience for questions, and a positive and constructive community discussion was had.

The Main Street Steering Committee is a group of local individuals working together to tackle community challenges, build a more vibrant downtown, and promote growth and prosperity in the Springfield region. The committee is dedicated to creating positive change. The members are taking an active role in the redevelopment of the downtown, and working to take the necessary steps to revitalize Springfield. Over twenty key projects have been identified in the Main Street Master Plan. Through partnerships and strategic collaboration, they are identifying the obstacles, finding solutions, and moving forward with building a stronger and brighter Springfield. The committee fully recognizes the importance of accountability and the critical need for follow-through. The group meets regularly on a monthly basis to share updates about ongoing projects, discuss any bumps in the road, and assess, assign, and accomplish next action items. They focus on common goals, leverage each individual individual’s strengths and connections, and cooperate to overcome challenges. Thanks to this collaborative format, The Main Street Steering Committee is making significant headway and ensuring that the increasing momentum of the community’s redevelopment efforts continue to grow. The group is committed to the revitalization of Springfield.

The Main Street Steering Committee are: Caitlin Christiana, Executive Director of the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce; Bob Flint, Executive Director of the Springfield Regional Development Corporation; Stephen Plunkard, Executive Director of Springfield on the Move; Jason Rasmussen of Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission; Bill Morlock, Executive Director of the Springfield Housing Authority; Paul Kendall, President of Lawrence & Wheeler Insurance Agency; Tom Yennerell, Springfield Town Manager; Peter MacGillivray, Springfield Selectboard Member; Walter Martone, Springfield Selectboard Member; Rick Genderson, One Hundred River Street property owner; Steve Greene, commercial real estate owner; Larry Traineanu, commercial real estate owner; Reggie Green, President of Claremont Savings Bank; Diane Parker, Peoples United Bank Branch Manager; Richard Amore, Project Manager of Community Planning & Revitalization for Vermont Department of Housing & Community Development; Jackie Cassino, Transportation Planning Coordinator for VTrans.

For more information about the Main Street Steering Committee or the Springfield Revitalization Project, contact the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce at 802-885-2779 or Tax-deductible donations can be made payable to: “Springfield Revitalization Fund,” c/o Springfield Regional Chamber, 56 Main Street, Suite 2, Springfield, VT 05156.

Community members gathered in the ballroom at the Hartness House to view the Main Street Master Plan and hear updates from the Main Street Steering Committee about the many revitalization efforts underway in Springfield.

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