Welcome to Main Street Waterbury. Well now that the kids are back in school it won’t be long before they’re looking at their first quarter report cards to see how they’re measuring up. Main Street Waterbury has measured up very well having just received our first annual program assessment and report from the Connecticut Main Street Center.

In June, John Simone, Executive Director of CMSC spent a day in Waterbury speaking to our Main Street volunteers on all four committees, our Board of Directors, town officials, including Mayor Jarjura, and other Downtown Waterbury stakeholders. His mission was to conduct our first annual program assessment, or report card if you will, to see how we as an organization are measuring up to our goals and vision for a revitalized downtown. He has now issued us a written report of his findings. Here are some of the highlights:

“When conducting an annual program assessment, it is not unusual for Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC) to observe that the local Main Street Program is not running on all four cylinders (meaning not fully utilizing the Four Points of Main Street). That is definitely not the case with Waterbury. In fact you are running flat out on all four cylinders, pushing your revitalization engine to the limits. For this you are to be highly commended. The challenge (and we believe the opportunity) now is to develop a more powerful engine to provide you with even more capacity to create and implement the downtown action plan.”

“Now is the time to utilize the momentum and accomplishments from your first year as a springboard to becoming an even more strategic and high-capacity institution with effective partnerships focused on downtown Waterbury.”

In referring to a recent study, Waterbury by Night – the Next Step for Repositioning Downtown, Simone said, “The niche market report, prepared by Phillips Preiss Shapiro Associates, Inc. is an excellent tool and roadmap for helping to set the strategic direction for downtown Waterbury. This report also provides MSW with a number of observations and recommendations that can help guide the direction of your strategic goals and action plan.”

“CMSC is ready to continue to work closely with Main Street Waterbury as you move forward. We can help you utilize the niche market report as you build your strategic goals and plan.”

“You have much to be proud of and many tools in place to help you reach a higher level of accomplishment. We look forward to working and learning with you as you begin to move in new directions.”

John Simone is correct in the fact that we do have much to be proud of. Main Street Waterbury has many enthusiastic volunteers who are working on projects with one goal in mind and that is the Revitalization of Downtown Waterbury. It is through their efforts that we were able to achieve National Accreditation from the National Main Street Center. This is an honor rarely bestowed upon “first year” organizations but serves to validate what CMSC found in their assessment.

As the Main Street Waterbury projects and accomplishments continue, they will only uncover much more that needs to be done in order to achieve our vision. Sometimes it seems as if there is a mountain of issues to tackle, but it is important for us to remember that this process is INCREMENTAL. Patience is the order of the day and gradually, our collection of small successes will lead us to much larger ones.

In the meantime, the Main Street Waterbury Organization Committee is working on a comprehensive list of projects, tasks, and responsibilities that Main Street volunteers could sign up for. I will publish this list in a future column. Incidentally, plans are underway for the second annual “Eat Your Art Out” event for Main Street Waterbury. If you attended last March, you know how much fun it was. Could we possibly be getting a celebrity Chef or two to show up? We’ll find out!

In other Main Street news, you may have noticed groups of incoming UConn Freshmen walking the streets downtown last month and getting acclimated to their surroundings. Thanks to the efforts of UConn Director Bill Pizzuto, UConn officials Jim Long, Sara DiMeo, Monike Martinez, Stuart Brown, Eileen Lemay , the Downtown Merchants and Main Street, UConn students are being encouraged to venture out into Downtown Waterbury and explore the many retail, dining, and cultural possibilities. In fact, Main Street’s Promotion Committee has devised a Contest for UConn students who are prompted to take a game piece and get it stamped at various participating downtown merchant locations. Completed game pieces are then entered into a drawing for prizes being offered by the merchants.

Don’t forget the Farmer’s Market on the Green every Thursday from 2-6PM until the end of October. We’re in the midst of the harvest season and the produce is only getting better and better. It’s Connecticut grown, it’s fresh and it’s reasonably priced.

As always, thank you for your support and interest in our downtown Waterbury revitalization efforts. If you are interested in volunteering for Main Street, you can call my office at 203-757-0701 ext. 302 or email me at crosa@mainstreetwaterbury.com and remember, keep thinking Main Street Waterbury, Culture, Education, Business!