LTE: Corky Bond on Springfield and its potential

Dear Editor,


Let me start by saying that although not a native, I have lived, worked, and raised a family in Springfield, Vt. since 1976. This is my home; I love it, and never wish to live elsewhere. It has been very exciting to see the changes in the past few years – the renovation of the Woolson block, the Springfield Food Co-op moving downtown, the razing of the VNA and Bakery buildings, the new Comtu Cascade Park, the Black River Innovation Campus (BRIC), the bump out in the square, and the removal of the J&L plant to name a few outstanding examples. It’s wonderful to see the Park Street falls lit up at night, the climbing wall at the Edgar May Recreational Center, the enhanced pedestrian crosswalks, the Jamie Townsend mural on the theatre building, the lighted alleyways, new benches and plantings on the Toonerville Trail, and to run into the Simpsons around town. Evidence of our enthusiasm is everywhere.

Hoyt’s Landing, the Toonerville Trail, Hartness Park, Muckross, the Crown Point Road, and the gorgeous Black River (that runs the entire length of town) provide some spectacular views and countless venues for outdoor recreation, as well as being a gold mine of economic opportunities.

That being said, I would like to make a few suggestions that I think are necessary for the positive evolution of Springfield:

  1. MAINTENANCE. When driving into town, you pass by many areas where basic maintenance has not been done. Grass needs more frequent cutting, weeds have grown up through sidewalks, shrubs are not trimmed, places that should be maintained are left overgrown, etc. First impressions are long lasting. Our public works department is short staffed and often absent in the summer months due to vacations and time-off for hours spent plowing. I get it. But we need to make it a priority and do better, whatever that takes. I believe we need a separate department or budget dedicated to maintenance, to include mulching and watering the many little garden areas around town. Any improvements to the downtown will be for naught if we don’t expect and plan for the necessary upkeep.
  2. VOLUNTEERS. Springfield On The Move (SOM) is “a non-profit that partners with business, citizens, property owners, and the town government to make Springfield’s downtown an attractive, desirable, and economically sustainable destination for residents and visitors.” With a very small budget from the town, SOM has one salaried employee, the Executive Director. There are also about 15 board members, and another 8–10 regular volunteers. The average age of these folks is approximately 70. SOM and the Garden Club are made up of a population of mostly retired citizens. As we get older and unable to do the work involved in making the town look better, we are not being replaced by more able-bodied volunteers. SOM and the Springfield Garden Club do the planting, weeding, mulching, and watering of all the garden spaces and flower boxes around town, as well as the holiday decorating. The concerts in the park last year and this year were sponsored by SOM. More volunteers are needed. Younger volunteers are needed.
  3. TOWN BUDGET. The town of Springfield has a “Main Street Master Plan,” which was published in June 2017, more than five years ago. In it, there are 22 specific projects to be started or accomplished by this time. Only three have been completed and three others begun. As stated in the plan, downtowns are no longer used as the main shopping centers, but rather as places to enjoy theater, dining, and strolling around. Visitors need to be attracted to the setting. The potential is there. The projects in the “Master Plan” haven’t happened because of a lack of funds, however, there are many sources of revenue that could be tapped. The Town’s governing body has neither the time nor the skills for marketing and fundraising. It is my opinion and my hope that the town of Springfield will hire a marketing professional and a grant writer to help us take advantage of our many assets and resources. We can all do so much more to make Springfield the kind of place we can be proud of, and to make it a place that others want to visit.



Corky Bond

Springfield, Vt.

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