“Don’t get caught up in the details,” Bill Braine suggested when he visited us last week. He was referring to his proposal to the Town Board on Nov. 7.
Speaking as the head of the Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC), Mr. Braine introduced a campaign, called “Cornwall Rising,” which would begin with an upgrade of Main Street.
After months of research and interviews, the committee suggested a pedestrian mall at the intersection of Bridge and Main Street, and a green area at either end of the business district.
The committee’s handout offered specifics, but Mr. Braine was focused on a concept when he came to our office. “This was just a way to start the conversation,” he said of the proposal — “a way to get people thinking about what makes Cornwall special, and how we can invite more investment and commerce into the community.”
One way to attract shoppers or investors is to make them feel they’ve entered a place that’s special when they come to Cornwall. The signs that visitors see when they enter town can create that impression.
The committee’s handout includes photographs of stone signs that welcome people to other communities. Mr. Braine envisions such a sign on Route 9W so that when motorists come over the mountain, they feel like they’ve entered a place that’s unique.
Once they’re in the center of town, one of Cornwall’s attractions is walkability — you can stroll from Chadeayne Circle to Village Square (and beyond) without ever leaving the sidewalk.
The pedestrian mall, if approved, would give walkers a new destination. On warm afternoons, they might buy lunch at a nearby restaurant and eat on a bench in the center of town. It would give them another reason to come to Main Street.
The bookend parks would set off the business district as a place that’s distinct from the neighborhoods around it.
Like the idea? Mr. Braine suggests that the proposal should be used as a springboard for discussion. He refers to the suggestions for Main Street that were made in the 1960s. Nothing happened and eventually the stores went away,
The Town Board invited the committee to return in January. In the meantime, the members will explore sources of funding and design, and will seek input from the public.