Is new visitor center on track for Fairfield RR station?
Published 11:05 am, Tuesday, April 19, 2011
With the ticket booth at the westbound side of the Fairfield's downtown train station closed, town officials hope to partner with the Chamber of Commerce to create a information center at the depot.
First Selectman Kenneth Flatto has asked if a $100,000 state grant originally received to move the Sturges gardener's cottage and renovate it into offices for the chamber could instead be used for this new purpose. The proposal to move the cottage from the Carolton Convalescent Hospital property on Mill Plain Road to the parking lot of the town's Recreation Center down the street was dropped when it failed to town boards refused to support the project with more funding.
The resolution will be discussed at the Board of Selectmen meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Sullivan-Independence Hall.
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Patricia Ritchie said the chamber would not move its Post Road office into the train station's waiting room. Instead, she said, the idea is to augment the merchant organization's visibility and give members an additional venue for their marketing materials. It would be, she said, a place where people can pick up information, perhaps with a video showcasing points of interest in town or a phone connection directly to the chamber offices.
"A comfortable place to sit and plan an itinerary, that sort of thing," Ritchie said, although she added many details of the project have not been firmed up.
According to Flatto's letter to the state Office of Policy and Management, the project would involve the rehabilitation of both the ticket area of the westbound building and an adjacent space of approximately 200 square feet that now is unused.
"The town intends to convert this empty space and turn it into a gateway of information for commuters, visitors, residents and businesses," Flatto said in his letter. The site would be open during regular station hours, and the town and chamber would pay operating costs. He indicated the town would provide $5,000 in in-kind contributions and another $10,000 in cash.
Jennifer Carpenter, Flatto's deputy chief of staff, said the plan is to staff the center on a part-time basis with volunteers , with occasional supervision by the town's Community and Economic Development Department.