This article has been updated to include town code regulation 6-166 concerning signs. The lamp posts on Greenwich Avenue were fundraised through Green & Clean and gifted to the Town, not Eversource.
During Thursday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, Selectwoman Lauren Rabin said she had met with the Reimagine Greenwich committee, whose meetings and materials are on the town website. (The next meeting is on Oct 14. Click here for Zoom instructions)
Rabin said there had been some discussion about merging the Reimagine Greenwich committee with “Think Greenwich,” the public relations effort that originated under former First Selectman Peter Tesei’s economic advisory committee.
“Our needs for the public-private partnership have evolved since Think Greenwich was created,” she explained.
First Selectman Fred Camillo has advocated for public-private partnerships to further the revitalized Greenwich Harbor and Roger Sherman Baldwin Park, and connect it to the Greenwich train station, Bruce Museum and lower Greenwich Avenue.
Just before the onset of the pandemic, an RFP went out for a design firm for a plan for the park and harbor front.
Mr. Camillo has also suggested a public private partnership be launched through Reimagine Greenwich for a trolley that would take visitors who park at Town Hall to Greenwich Avenue.
Ms Rabin said she had met with Greenwich Green & Clean to discuss a contest among local florists to replace the summer planter arrangements on Greenwich Avenue with something more seasonal.
The Selectmen are working to schedule a date for a public hearing about how long to keep the bottom block closest to Railroad Ave closed to boost restaurants during the pandemic. Diners have flocked to outdoor dining up and down the Avenue since June, but summer is over and the temperatures are dropping.
The block is tentatively scheduled to stay closed through Dec 21, 2020. The Board of Selectmen serves as the town’s traffic authority and authorized the closures. The town’s P&Z dept have authority to approve permits for outdoor dining.
“What people will be mostly happy about is that the advertisement signs on Greenwich Avenue will be coming down,” Rabin said, referring to Think Greenwich’s controversial lamp post banners that were sold to raise funds for the the Think Greenwich public relations effort.
Opponents of the advertising signs referred to their presence as a “commercialization of Greenwich,” noting that many of them were sold to a real estate company.
Proponents of the signs noted that some of America’s most glamorous and charming streets have tasteful banners dotted along their business districts, including Rodeo Drive to Madison Avenue.
According to former Greenwich First Selectman, Peter Tesei, the banners were given approval for 90% public information and 10% advertisement, after several meetings and consultation with Town Planner Katie DeLuca, and Town administrator Ben Branyan under the following section of municipal code:
6-166 Location of Sign (e) All signs that are on the public right or way are expressly prohibited except those signs erected by or on behalf of:
1) a governmental body to convey public information or direct pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
Town code Section 6-170 specifically limits signs.
The lamp posts on the Avenue were made possible through private fundraising by Greenwich Green & Clean, who use them to hang seasonal flower and greenery baskets.
While Green & Clean paid for the lamp posts, they surrendered ownership to the Town. The hanging/mounting hardware for the banners is owned by Think Greenwich.
“There was a little bit of a delay due to Covid as well as a vendor getting paid for some previous work,” Rabin explained about why the advertising signs have remained in place.
There was no mention of the banner that non profits can pay to string across the Ave by Lewis Street (at the corner with CFCF.) That was also an initiative under the Tesei administration, and non profits pay $250 to hang a banner. Parks & Rec staff put them up, take them down and untwist them after heavy winds.
Back in January, Camillo said he had no problem with those banners or the fee. “I don’t look at it as commercialization. It adds a little bit of a home town kind of feel,” he said at the time.
A hearing on the closure of the bottom most block of Greenwich Avenue to traffic to create an outdoor dining plaza has yet to be scheduled. The Board of Selectmen are firming up a date. Stay tuned.
Several businesses at the bottom of the Avenue have taken a hit due to the lack of parking and exposure afforded by through traffic.