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Heller Launches Town Center Beautification Initiative

Heller Launches Town Center Beautification Initiative

Responding to the often-stated need for more community space in Woodbridge, First Selectmen Beth Heller has launched an initiative to make the town center a more inviting place to linger.  “We want to make the center more attractive,” she said in a phone conversation.  She said she has many ideas how to make the center more inviting for people to linger and to create more of a community atmosphere.  The plan is to come up with low-cost or better yet, no cost solutions, possibly through cooperation with entities such as the Boy Scouts or the Garden Club.

Heller has asked Administrative Assistant Betsy Yagla to develop a draft plan for the upcoming Board of Selectmen meeting on August 8.

As part of this effort, the first selectman’s office is exploring the feasibility of expanding the sidewalks in the center of town, in particular from Amity High School to the library, and possibly later to the Center ballfield.  Amity students often walk from the school to the library in the afternoon, or they cross through Meetinghouse Lane to get to the center ballfields.  Sidewalks would allow for much safer crossing for them.

Heller said expanding wifi throughout the center area may entice people to sit outside the library and get some work done.  That, of course, would require some benches or other seating options.  Selectmen recently approved a Memorial Bench Program, allowing residents to purchase memorial benches to be placed at certain spots throughout the town.  By keeping it to a certain style it allows the town to keep these donations to appropriate size and low-maintenance materials.  Six-foot benches are $2,800 and eight-foot benches $3,100 — which includes the bench, installation, a plaque and maintenance.  As for locations, the town listed a number of choices.

Adding to the beautification plan is the imminent opening of the Meetinghouse Café in the Center Building cafeteria.  Starting August 1, people will be able to grab some coffee or soup or a bagel and sit outside to enjoy it in plain air.  The café will offer breakfast and lunch items between the hours of 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday.  As the Woodbridge Town News reported last month, the café was planned to be up and running already, but the opening was pushed back by a month.  Senior Center director Jeanette Glicksman said she was hoping for an August 1 soft opening, followed by an official grand opening after Labor Day.

The vision Betsy Yagla described is of a town center where people can plug in their electric cars while they visit the library or Town Hall, get their lunch and take a walk at the cornfield.  Yagla said, “If they have business to take care of, they might as well make an afternoon of it.”

By Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent

Pictured: Memorial bench as shown on the town website. First Selectman Beth Heller is working to make the center of town — the area between the library and the Town Hall — a place where residents can relax.

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