Downtown Merchants: It’s Not Easy Being Green (And Red)!

The Westport Downtown Merchants Association has followed the “06880” discussion about local holiday decorations with interest. Steve Desloge says:

As president of the DMA, and also president of Rockwell Art and Framing (with custom frame stores in Westport, Fairfield, New Canaan, Ridgefield, North Stamford and Wilton), I am very familiar with each town’s holiday decorations. I share everyone’s frustration with the lack of holiday decorations on Main Street.

I would like to explain some of the short-term challenges and long-term solutions that are in store for downtown Westport.

This past summer, approximately 8 new trees were planted on Main Street to replace the dead/damaged/dying trees that were previously removed. However, 4 of these trees did not take hold, and had to be replaced within the last 90 days. Per the Westport tree warden, no lighting is allowed in the trees this year for fear of damaging or killing such young, vulnerable trees.

Tree care on Main Street, earlier this year.

Tree care on Main Street, earlier this year.

In attempt to compensate for the loss of lights, the WDMA has decorated 11 light standards between the Post Road and Avery Place, plus 2 on the Post Road with holiday greens, trees and ribbons. However, there is no electricity available on the poles for decorative lighting.  We installed solar powered light strands; however, the lights just are not as bright as we expected, and thus very disappointing and very frustrating!

We have installed a 25-foot tree with lights on the river near the bridge. Geiger’s will be selling Christmas trees downtown, and a menorah has been placed in front of the old Y to bring some holiday atmosphere.

Unfortunately, the WDMA has no control over how or if member or non-member businesses decorate their premesis.  We have been informed that some previous decorations were “jury-rigged” with extension cords, wires and other unsafe practices.

Downtown holiday events have been scheduled for the 2 weekends prior to Christmas, including carolers, Santa Claus and free horse and buggy rides, all sponsored by the WDMA. The WDMA also provided a free community party on December 3 with live music, ice carvers, Santa, and free food and drinks from members Bobby Q’s, Blue Lemon, and Westport Pizza.

Santa was part of the Downtown Merchants Association holiday party, earlier this month.

Santa was part of the Downtown Merchants Association holiday party, earlier this month.

Between February and May 2015 the town will install all new curbing and brick sidewalks between the Post Road and Avery Place. In addition, 28 new decorative light poles, similar to those in surrounding towns, will replace the current highway light standards. Each pole will have electrical outlets for holiday lighting, plus a banner on one side and a planter on the other. The WDMA annually plants and maintains the flowers in the existing baskets.

It is too early to understand if we can place lights in trees for next year, but we will certainly work with the town and the tree warden to evaluate all possibilities.  The town is working closely with the DMA. We are already talking about design ideas for next year that will be special and different.

We are working hard to improve all aspects of core downtown.  I invite you to view downtownwestportct.com, to get a good insight of how the Downtown Master Plan is developing. It is very exciting to see what is in store in the months and years to come.

Best wishes to all for a wonderful holiday season from the Westport Downtown Merchants Association.

11 responses to “Downtown Merchants: It’s Not Easy Being Green (And Red)!

  1. That was a very thorough and informative update. Thanks, Mr. Desloges, and happy holidays to you and yours!

  2. Westport at Christmas thru New Years was just magical, back in the day, 60’s-70’s. Sad it isn’t still that way.

  3. check out the Westport Patch today with all the perfect gifts under $100 that can be purchased on the internet instead of supporting the local economy which supports them! maybe amazon should send a representative to westport to decorate all the shopping areas!

    • We probably shouldn’t be surprised. Westport Patch is a national “chain” itself. However, I think their presence around here is negligible. “06880,” of course, is local (like the Winged Monkey). I agree: Support local businesses — and blogs!

  4. Steve, thanks for taking the time to provide all of this info.

  5. Thoughtful response, Steve. Thank you and best wishes for the holidays.

  6. Thanks for the detailed explanation Steve. Happy Holidays!

  7. Very informative explanation. Thanks. What was..was. What is…is. What can be can be with thoughtful planning.

  8. Steve. Thanks for the update and keeping us informed as to what is going on.

    There are people, whoever, are concerned about the support to town activities or should I say lack of it. With many national chains, do you belueve they have taken a real interest in the town and help provide funds and gifts for thinks like the Staples Football team?

    I only ask so we get this ‘in the table’ and hear how the DMA responds. Please do not shoot the messenger.

    Hoping the holiday season brought much success.

  9. A few years ago, I took my two grandchildren to New York for the day and went to Central Park. I wanted them to see the zoo since I remember vividly going there with my mother many times. When I got to the seal area, I had to ask an attendant if this was just the training tank and where was the big one. He said: “This is it.” That is when it dawned upon me that everything “back in the day” that we remember as children is colored by the fact that we were children. Downtown Westport was probably exciting to kids being dragged shopping by parents during the bustling Christmas season. I’ve learned that as years go by things are just different. They aren’t necessarily better or worse and we have to adapt and make new memories for our children. I think walking the streets of downtown Westport is fun today. I look forward to the new area being built around the old Y. I live in Saugatuck and revel in what the Gaults and others have done with this part of town and what is yet to come. I’ve learned to be happy with the now and let go of the past. It gets me nowhere.