Published in the September 16, 2015 edition
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — Although it appears that two new restaurants want to move into the downtown area, Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio still believes that there is more that the town can do to spur economic revitalization on Main Street by working with downtown commercial property owners to better market their properties to prospective business tenants.
Maio told the selectmen this week about a consulting firm that will come in and perform a market analysis and develop a profile of the community. The firm would analyze the community’s income and demographics and make recommendations as to what types of businesses could succeeds in that environment, according to Maio.
He said that he would like to engage Fine Points Associates, LLC. The firm would work with Maio, the Town Planner, the Main Street Program, the Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Committee to see what can be done to help local businesses and commercial property owners in the downtown.
The cost to the town will be $9,999, but it will not come from taxpayer funds, Maio stressed. The town will use project money that it has in its Community Development Block Grant fund that was received years ago.
Town Counsel Thomas Mullen has reviewed the contract with Fine Points, Maio noted.
“I’m very excited about this,” Maio said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for the town. We’re trying to do everything we can to make things better for the town of Wakefield.”
The selectmen unanimously approved the expenditure for this venture.
Another idea to promote local businesses and support the downtown retail district was presented by Selectman Paul DiNocco on behalf of the Wakefield Main Street Program.
DiNocco reminded the board that just over a year ago, The Savings Bank had sponsored the first 50 banners that currently hang from the light poles in the downtown area.
He proposed this week that the selectmen support an idea for a promotion/fundraiser to raise money to purchase 50 more banners. The idea is to promote local businesses by attaching a sign to the bottom of some of the banners using clips already on the banners for that purpose. DiNocco showed the board a rough prototype of the kind of signage being suggested for the bottom of the banners.
DiNocco noted that by next spring, the current banners will have been up for almost two years. He said that the idea was to replace some of them with new banners and add some vibrancy to the downtown. He said that advertising signs would be attached to perhaps every other banner, not all of them.
Money would be raised by having businesses donate somewhere in the range of $250 for having their sign on a banner for a few months. He stressed that the dollar amount mentioned was just an example and was not set in stone.
DiNocco also said that the location of banners and signs need not be just in the downtown area. Some, he said, could be placed in other parts of town to direct people to the downtown business district.
Selectman Patrick Glynn said he was concerned about the proliferation of signs. Too many signs could make the town look “honkytonk,” he said. He asked how the program would be administered fairly.
DiNocco said that the idea was in its early stages and suggested that once a strategy is worked out, Glynn’s concerns may be addressed. He assured the board that aesthetics would be taken into account and the idea was not to “oversaturate” the town with the banners and signs.
Maio said that he supported the proposal but agreed that it should be implemented in a tasteful manner.
The board voted to authorize the Main Street program to move forward and come back to the board with a final prototype for the signs as well as guidelines on how the program would be implemented.