Welcome to Main Street Waterbury and Happy New Year!

You may recall my New Year’s message from last year regarding Resolutions. Let’s see how we did in 2005.

1. Litter – There is no question we’ve made great strides to clean up downtown. In March, a huge rally for all 4th graders was held at the Palace Theater. Jack Golden, a nationally traveled anti-litter expert, gave his presentation “A Litter Bit Goes A Long Way”. It was well received and helped spread the word to our youth about the importance of not littering. The Downtown Waterbury Clean Team won the Connecticut Main Street Award in June under the category of “Best Public/Private Partnership. The Waterbury Police Department began issuing $100 tickets to litter bugs. The systems are in place to keep downtown clean yet we still have many lazy slobs who insist on throwing their coffee cups, pizza plates, ripped up lottery tickets, liquor bottles, and everything else imaginable on the sidewalks and streets. Resolution for 2006….to the slobs…we’re coming after you!!

2. Changed Attitudes about Downtown – We’ve made some good progress with this one. Events that occurred in 2005 such as the Farmer’s Market on the Green and the continued programming at the Palace Theater as well as major shows such as Thomas the Tank Engine in Library Park, have all contributed to a genuine feeling that people are starting to feel good about downtown again. People are actually walking around downtown at night after Palace shows. They feel safe and see activity and police presence. Resolution for 2006….Keep the momentum going.

3. Spread the Word – Having completed a successful year of Main Street projects that are visible and making a difference, we know first hand that people are starting to talk it up. I’ve heard countless stories throughout this past year of pleased Palace patrons phoning up their “out of town” friends and relatives to come downtown. Resolution for 2006….We’re all ambassadors for downtown, keep spreading the word!

4. Shop Downtown – As more shopping opportunities present themselves I would like to remind you about those retail merchants and businesses who have been in Downtown Waterbury for many years and are still hanging in there. Several of them should be noted for the great window displays that they had throughout 2005 and particularly the holiday season. The Connecticut Store, Tony’s Men Shop, Ideal Jewelers, The Photo Shop, Brass City Tobacco, Pinnacle Staffing, John Bale Book Company, CafÈ Europa, Brass City Buzz, and Adele Palmieri Florist should all be commended on their dynamic and eye catching window displays. There are many more who do a great job with their windows. However, there are those who waste a great opportunity to put activity in their windows. Resolution for 2006 – For those who don’t…Dress up your windows… People do notice!

5. Walk the Downtown District – In June, we held a Design Survey Workshop for our downtown district. We encouraged our Design Committee to walk the district, observe what they see and inventory a list of existing conditions. We had them note specific items such as monuments, street furniture and lighting, trees and landscaping, traffic flow, parking locations, directional signage, and pedestrian flow. We also suggested they pay particular attention to the architecture. Once we assessed what existing conditions are, we can be in a position to recommend improvements. This is an ongoing process and we are now getting help on this from the 2005/2006 Chamber Leadership Class. But the important point here is that this can only be done if you are out of your car and walking around downtown both during the day and at night. Resolution for 2006….Continue to walk around downtown….Make observations….We can use your input!

6. Dine Downtown – Based on suggestions from our Market Niche Study done in April, we have been actively pursuing more quality restaurants to locate downtown. The simple fact of the matter is that the great existing downtown restaurants presently cannot handle the tremendous crowds that attend the Palace. Suburban Theatergoers, who incidentally make up 70% of all ticket purchases, are looking for more dining options downtown. They want to park their car in one location and walk around for both a dining and entertainment evening. There just aren’t that many options for them. To those who say that Waterbury already has plenty of restaurants and that there are not enough people downtown to support the restaurants when there is no show in town. I disagree. A top quality restaurant that provides great food, good service, and inspiring ambiance, is the destination regardless of whether or not the show is playing on any given night. Resolution for 2006….To restaurant groups considering a second location…check out Downtown Waterbury. To theater patrons…check out the existing downtown restaurants and hang in there…we’re working on more!

7. Entertain Yourself – 2005 saw much more entertainment activity in Downtown Waterbury. In addition to the Palace shows and return events such as the Bike Race and Thomas the Tank Engine, there was entertainment, cultural events, trade shows, concerts and charity fundraisers at the Mattatuck Museum, in Library Park, on the Green, at the Waterbury Arts Magnet School, in the Howland Hughes Building, in the Armory, at Uconn, at the Downtown Hotels, and at the YMCA. Not to mention the fact that streets were closed off for concerts on Grand and Mardi Gross Halloween event on Bank and Leavenworth. In fact, there were so many entertainment options in Downtown Waterbury in 2005 that you couldn’t help but notice. Resolution for 2006….continue to be a part of it.

8. Show Your Appreciation – When I mentioned this last year, I was hoping to encourage visitors to acknowledge the fine work of many who are making a difference downtown. This includes the police, public works personnel, clean team members, firefighters, blight team and the various volunteers who work on projects to better our downtown Waterbury environment. Recognition of their efforts still goes a long way. Resolution for 2006…to those who work downtown, residents and those who drive through downtown… show your appreciation by respecting the effort of many and obeying ordinances, parking laws, and speed limits.

9. Volunteer – Reports show that the instances of volunteerism are on the increase. Events in 2005 demonstrated that natural disasters and societal needs bring out the best in us as we Americans always rise to the occasion to help. The average volunteer hour is worth around $17.55. Although this is an average number and some service is worth more and some less, it gives you a sense of just how important your time is to any organization. The need continues for many organizations. Resolution for 2006…be part of the solution…lend your time and talents….help us in our efforts to revitalize downtown Waterbury.

10. Stay Informed – You can’t be part of the solution if you are not aware of the problem. In 2005, we improved our Main Street website, and issued our Brass Buttons events calendar. All events occurring within the Downtown Waterbury district are listed in both mediums. Pick up your copy today at many downtown locations to learn about what is going on. Resolution for 2006….visit the Main Street website at www.mainstreetwaterbury.com and read our soon to be released newsletter.

In other Main Street Waterbury news, the date has been set for our second annual fundraising event “Eat Your Art Out II” which will be held on Thursday March 2 at the Palace Theater. Like last year, this event is an edible art show and will feature some of our region’s great chefs as they offer their artistic food creations to be judged in several categories including most original and most delicious. Ticket holders will get a chance to sample the delectable creations, listen to some great entertainment, and contribute to our revitalization efforts. Get your tickets early because, if last year was any indication, this is definitely an event you won’t want to miss. You can find more details including ticket information on the Main Street website.

If you are interested in helping our Main Street program you can contact me at 203-757-0701 ext. 302 or email me at crosa@mainstreetwaterbury.com and remember, keep thinking “Main Street Waterbury, Culture, Education, Business”!