WESTFIELD — The Downtown Westfield Corporation (DWC) voted to reallocate budget line items at its meeting held last Wednesday.
The design committee report mentioned the two budget line items that resulted in a vote. One was the historic renovation project at the train station building on North Avenue that was voted on by the preservation committee. The renovation costs $512,000 for the exterior and will cost $1.6 million in total. There is a line in the budget for façade renovation in the amount of $14,900. Since the board has not engaged in any other renovations this year, members voted to reallocate the $14,900 of its available grant funding to this renovation. The property is owned by Westfield, and there is a significant historic aspect. Permits have been obtained, and so far, the only issue has been that the utilities are not capable of supporting a restaurant. Plans have been underway for some time to convert the space into a Mexican eatery and bar to be known as Maize Cocktails and Cocina. The second line item was voted upon as a conditional pre-approval, meaning the action will go into effect unless it is forbidden by the town of Westfield.
A $6,000 line item in the budget for streetscapes was reallocated to the design budget for lighting. A proposal from the lighting company that worked on Quimby Street said the company would be able to install poles with the same small cement blocks at the bottom and the DWC asked for three different options: lights on both sides of Quimby Street, lights on both sides of East Broad Street, and lights on both sides of Elm Street. The $6,000 from streetscapes would be added to the existing $6,000 to go towards the cost of $13,900.
The design committee also requested $1,000 from signage be reallocated to the current $4,000 allocated to banners to cover the cost of design.
At its previous meeting, the DWC spoke about the need for a strategic plan and has since met with a company called MP Strategy to come up with a proposal about how to create a strategic plan that will involve interviewing stakeholders. The DWC is seeking volunteer board members to arrange a small committee to evaluate the proposals as they are received.
In an effort to gain more board involvement, the DWC will increase opportunities to vote upon action items. Holiday programming will be voted upon at next month’s meeting.
Recommendations will be made about how to best utilize funds at the next meeting in October. Prior to the meeting, an email will be sent out that includes where the funds currently are. According to the report for the month, the design committee has $38,000 in its budget remaining; the economic vitality committee has $13,000 left to be budgeted, and the promotions committee has a remaining $49,000. Each of the three committees will draft initiative items for 2024. They will have until early November to submit their requests, and in December, they will be reviewed and presented to the executive committee. Some holiday programs have already been scheduled. There is the possibility of a Rocky Horror Picture Show event this October and the tree lighting is set for Sunday, November 26. Holiday plans include additional lights and possibly more decorations. There also is the possibility that each of the streets will change its name in celebration of the holiday season. For example, there might be a street sign on East Broad Street that says, “Candy Cane Place.”
In other downtown business news, all of the rental space downtown has been leased except for a small, 1,100square-foot space. Fortis Coffeee, an international café chain, is scheduled to open this Sunday, and an international fashion jewelry company called Broadway Italia just signed a lease to open a location in Westfield.