'Chowder and Chatter' Panel Looks Ahead to the Future
The Easton Historical Society event included a panel that discussed the many projects and programs happening around Easton.
Usually the Easton Historical Society isn't in the business of looking into the future.
But, Thursday night, it was a futuristic theme at the Society's Chowder and Chatter event at Southeastern Regional High School.
A panel moderated by Edmund Hands and consisting of Board of Selectmen Chair Colleen Corona, Nancy Cohenno of the Easton Garden Club, David Ames and Avery Lee Williams discussed the revitalization of Easton's downtown, a flourishing Lions Club and Grange Thrift Shop and a Festival of Trees, which is looking to grow after its inaugural year.
The event wouldn't have lived up to its name if it weren't for the chowder and clam cakes provided by Southeastern Chef Paula Kfoury and her students. The meal was paid for by Avery Lee Williams and Kevin Williams.
Williams, a member of the Lions Club and the Grange, led the discussion on both organizations' contributions to the town. As always, the life-long Eastonite was animated and lively, often engaging his audience in laughter.
"If you can't have fun, don't bother getting out of bed in the morning," he said.
Williams looked back at the creation of both organizations. The Lions Club is focused on the prevention of blindness while the grange is derived from a farming.
"It's originally to provide social interaction with farm families and to lobby for farming," Williams said.
Easton's Grange Thrift Shop, open on Wednesdays and Saturday on route 138 next to Buddy's Union Villa, is a 50/50 partnership between the Grange and the Lions Club. Williams said plans may be in the future to "do something about the limited parking spaces."
The Grange Thrift Shop is just down the street from Easton's downtown, which, as described by Colleen Corona and David Ames, will receive a major facelift in the next few years.
"It's going to be a beautiful project once it's done," Corona said about the Ames Shovel Works project.
The public/private partnership with Beacon Community Development closed on paperwork this week and construction is beginning this month to create 113 housing units in what used to be shovel factories in the heart of Easton's downtown.
Corona explained that in addition to the housing project, a number of subsequent projects have come about, including an updated sewer system with a wastewater treatment plant benefiting the 113 units and 70 parcels in North Easton Village.
The Town was able to secure a $1.5 million grant for wastewater treatment. Additionally, it received an additional $1 million for "downtown revitalization", which will include updated sidewalks and the burying of wires.
David Ames discussed the purchasing of the Governor Ames Estate on Oliver Street, which received a $500,000 grant earlier this year.
The Trustees of Reservation, Ames explained, was founded over 100 years ago.
"The Trustees are going to maintain this as an open estate for informal recreation," Ames said.
He said the deal to purchase the property is expected to close in the next few months. In the meantime, he said, the Trustees "really want to get a sense of what people in Easton want to see in the property."
"This is all right there in North Easton Village, and this is really the final major piece in that property," he said.
The updated downtown area will provide a backdrop for next year's "Festival of Trees," which helped the Easton Garden Club earn $14,000 last year, according to Nancy Cohenno, who spoke about the event on behalf of the Easton Garden Club.
"It was quite an event last year," she said. "It really had a positive impact on the town."
Cohenno said 1,664 people attended the Holiday event last year at the Queset House to see 24 decorated trees. This year, the club hopes to step up its game and include up to 48 trees, while adding smaller trees "to accommodate everyone."
The event will coincide with the Lions Club Holiday Festival this year between Dec. 1 and Dec. 8.
The panelists said that between the downtown projects and the many events and programs on tap this year, 2012 could be a marquee year for the town.
"It's going to be a very big year in Easton," Corona said. "You're going to see a lot going on."