Sometimes good ideas don’t have to cost a lot.
Mike Morelli had one of those ideas on Tuesday, when Conimicut residents gathered at the American Legion Shields Post to explore ways to spend a $100,000 Community Development Block Grant for the village.
Like many who live and work in the village, Morelli has been asked for directions to Conimicut Point Park countless times. There are a few obscure signs, but for those new to the area the point is not easy to find.
Morelli’s suggestion is to paint a line down the middle of the road for people to follow.
“Mike’s line,” as the proposal was quickly named, got plenty of stars when the 38 people at the workshop were given six stickers each to identify their preferences, but not the most stars.
At the end of the brainstorming, that distinction had to go to acquisition of two vacant buildings in the village center – the former Salk’s and Casey’s Bait Shop. Suggestions ranged from keeping the bait shop as a village association headquarters and meeting place to demolishing the Salk’s building and using the area for an extension of Donovan Park, a playground or a location for a gazebo.
A lot of stars also went to building a dog park at the Point; building a boat ramp; building a pavilion at the Point that could be used for community meetings and rented for private use; identifying public rights of way to the water and ensuring they are protected from storm erosion; and signage at both ends of the village.
One proposal was for electric signs that could be changed to notify people of upcoming village events and provide weather alerts, or simply welcome people to Conimicut.
In opening remarks, Conimicut Village Association president Ginny Barham outlined the process to identify those priorities that will go into a master plan. She said it is important to have a focus for use of the funds and to develop a “solid document we can go forward with.”
“I am hopeful you become vested in making this happen and [make the village] a better place to live,” she said.
Serving as facilitator, Linda Davey said all ideas were welcome.
“Tell us what you would like to see in Conimicut,” she said.
The group then broke into smaller groups of six and seven where the brainstorming happened.
Among the many suggestions were a farmers market at the Point; a tidal siren at the Point to warn people walking the sandbar; stamped crosswalks in the village center; a building for bike and kayak rentals; murals that could be erected in vacant store fronts so as to liven up the village; hiring an engineering consultant to help homeowners find ways to reduce flood insurance premiums; trash cans at bus stops; completion of the historic lights on West Shore Road; pruning of the village’s ornamental trees; and to push for the lighthouse grant.
The lighthouse grant raised questions.
Ward 4 Councilman Joseph Solomon noted that in 2006, the city was approved for a $560,000 grant to improve the lighthouse but the money was never awarded. Some of those funds, if they were to be received, could be used for a boat ramp, Solomon suggested.
At the end of the workshop, Barham said that breakout table captains would meet in the near future to assemble ideas and prioritize them. That product will then go to the Cecil Group, the consultants retained by the city to conduct a cost analysis of the proposals, as well as identify additional funding sources. Barham expected the final plan would be completed by February or March.