Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Revitalizing downtown Springfield

It continues to be a very exciting time for Springfield and our downtown. The Downtown Streetscape study has recommended numerous projects. Some have been completed; others are anticipated soon. Have you heard the lovely music as you walk about?

Springfield on the Move, our designated downtown organization, has been in existence and working diligently since 1996. Every local resident, business owner and entrepreneur has benefited from the efforts of this non-profit organization that has accepted the challenge of revitalizing and maintaining the center of Springfield.

Former Executive Director Stephen Plunkard was able to begin his well-deserved retirement in June. We all wish Stephen the best as he ventures out onto this new, and hopefully restful, frontier. We are pleased that 1989 Springfield High School graduate Jessica Martin has taken over the helm and is quickly acclimating to her new position, including meeting downtown folks and coordinating our upcoming move to the town hall.

Some recent projects

Holiday Program 2017. In December close to 200 children once again were excited to participate in the downtown holiday program sponsored by SOM and the Chamber of Commerce. They followed a map to visit downtown businesses while the community band and chorus performed until Santa arrived to light the town tree. They then visited Mr. and Mrs. Claus in Santa’s House. SOM volunteers hung wreaths on lamp posts to complement lights installed by the chamber, creating a festive vibe downtown.

Theater Courtyard. The Springfield on the Move Design Committee landscape crew has again planted colorful annuals at the theater courtyard and added perennials and additional mulch. Volunteers from adjacent businesses continue their commitment to water the flowers.

The old benches have been removed thanks to HB Energy Solutions, and new fixed benches have been temporarily installed until the “bump out” project is complete. These benches are unique to Springfield and portray elements of our town’s history. They are being placed throughout downtown as we await our continuing participation in the exciting Comtu Park extension. We thank those generous donors who made this exciting project happen.

Bump-out Project. SOM will provide a “pop-up” simulation prior to the bump-out project to prepare folks for the proposed changes between the Square and Valley Street. We will continue maintaining SOM parks, e.g. the Paul Putnam park below the town hall; the Comtu Cascade pocket park; the VAULT alleyway.

Economic Development. SOM works hard to improve buildings and to provide technical assistance to both established businesses and prospective entrepreneurs. Because one of our major goals is to increase downtown occupancy, we regularly provide pertinent information and/or referrals to other programs. Our economic development committee continues to develop comprehensive packets for the Woolson Block retail spaces.

An upcoming event

Up-Cycle Springfield II – Building on the great success of last year’s event, a live auction will again take place in October! It will include repurposed, refurbished, and reimagined items for home and garden by local artists and craftspeople, plus original art, fun accommodations, and more will embellish the auction. Themed gift baskets for every taste and interest valued at $100 will be raffled. Look for a “Save the Date” announcement for an evening of enjoyment and local pride with all proceeds dedicated to making our downtown a more beautiful and thriving space.

We at SOM realize that as a designated downtown organization, we are committed to continue the many efforts to meet ongoing needs. It is with the support of people who share the goals of SOM that we are able to move forward in enhancing the economic viability of downtown Springfield.

By Tom Hernon, Jessica Martin, Sandy MacGillivray & Barbara Sanderson

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