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Chamber wants to beautify Main Street


Presented plans during meeting this week


March 03, 2010
LITTLETON–The Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce (LACC) presented some of its Main Street beautification plans during a meeting Monday in the Community House.

A handful of residents turned out to hear Executive Director Chad Stearns and board member Jim Alden present plans to liven and beautify Main Street. They are raising money to be used to receive matching funds they are asking voters to approve on the warrant at next week's Town Meeting vote. The warrant article asks voters to approve spending up to $20,000 of matching funds to beautify Main Street. LACC has to raise the money first; the town will match money raised up to that amount.

Alden reviewed the history of the project up to that point and noted how at one time it was a larger scale undertaking, both in scope and geographically. Originally, the project was meant to go from the Beal House to the Opera House, he noted. There were also a lot more aesthetic items in it, he said.

"That's natural with any project, that it will be refined, maybe scaled down," Alden said. "Beautification had to be put on hold."

A committee has been formed of people with varying perspectives on beautifying Main Street, a committee which includes, besides Alden and Stearns, Mike Claflin, Ashley Walker, Mucho Salomon, and Ron Lahout.

"We tried to balance finance, organization and design," Alden said. "But this is essentially a design project." He said the committee's mission is to preserve the historic, cultural and community resources of downtown. Preserving those things are essential to maintaining Littleton as a "quintessential New England town." People want an experience, not a specific destination, he said.

In order to beautify Main Street it is necessary understand what its permanent features are and what has to be worked around, Alden said. Some of these things are the dimensions of sidewalks, what the parking meters and lampposts look like, and the width of the street.

During the recently completed Main Street Reconstruction Project, black Victorian style lampposts were installed on the street, as were parking meters in the same style. Any beautification project would have to complement them, Alden said.

Among the ideas considered: greenery in the form of hanging plants on special brackets on the new light poles, flower and window boxes in front of stores, off-street parking signs and trash cans.

"Planters, flowerboxes, all these things soften the look of downtown," Alden said.

Ash receptacles should also be considered to keep cigarette butts out of planters and off the sidewalk, where they can go into the storm drain system.

All of these ideas improve the walkability of downtown, he said.

Resident Alison Bolt mentioned benches and said they were important to keeping people downtown and said older people need a place to sit.

Alden said committee was looking at that but pros and cons had to be considered, as many people weren't in favor of them. The sidewalks are also narrow and without a lot of room, he said.

Resident Jere Eames said benches had a long history of attracting the wrong element in town. Places where they have been tried they didn't last long, Eames said. He said they were put up in front of the Thayers Inn once and lasted a week before the management took them down.

Bolt suggested LACC put up some sample banners or signs before next week's vote to show people what they had in mind for beautification.

Trees, which had been discussed in previous meetings were only touched on briefly by Eames who said that if any trees are considered that business owners should have a say over whether any are put in front of their building.

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