Perhaps its the season. Perhaps its the negative national news — or not so negative, depending in your perspective, since shining a light on sexual assault may finally end this caveman mentality — but we’ve become aware that there’s a good deal of good work getting done around here.
Some of it is with municipal funds and some with private funds — even better. Private investment in commerical areas of a community is a good sign because it means people are emotionally invested as well as financially invested.
Consider that Westerly officials finally located an asphalt dealer and have been paving roads since the great rebuild of the Cross Street obstacle course last year. Others followed, including Main Street, which, as dedicated readers can tell, we can’t be more pleased about.
And the paving of Main Street is supposed to be the first step in a long range plan that calls for the town to work with merchants and property owners to spruce up the gateway to town from Connecticut, according to comments from Town Manager Derrik Kennedy back in May when the long-awaited paving was announced.
Now Winnapaug Pond is finally getting dredged — or is close to it once a contract is awarded. Residents and boaters in that area have been waiting years for that project. And the owners of the popular breakfast and lunch spot, Amanda’s Pantry, are sprucing up the area in front of the old town garage on Beach Street by building a new site for their 70-seat restaurant.
Across the river, Stonington has revised its zoning regulations to help encourge small-business development in the downtown area of Pawcatuck and in the vacant mill space along Mechanic Street. And Stonington voters’ approval of the Mystic River Boathouse Park — with its river access and envisioned community rowing program — should be considered a rare gem for the entire region.
On the private side of the ledger — and another project we admittedly can’t get enough of — a former Norwich resident has returned to the area from years in California to rehab the decades-dormant Walton Block in the heart of downtown Pawcatuck. Long an eyesore across the street from the vibrant Mel’s Downtown Creamery, this project has great promise for boosting the confidence of other merchants who work hard to make it in the downtown, amid neighboring empty buildings. And now we see that work apparently is underway to clean up another decades dormant eyesore, the old New England Tire building prominently located at the inersection of Routes 1 and 2 and Mechanic Street.
We get the sense there is momentum building from several small, unrelated projects that in the larger view have great potential to come together as a whole to make this area even more vibrant and appealing than it already is.