Art to Avenue, other events to close roads

Tonight’s Art to the Avenue celebration is set to stop traffic on Greenwich Avenue… literally. And it won’t be the only event to do so in town.

With winter at an end and outside activities, both of a festive and construction variety, now moving forward, the Board of Selectmen found itself approving several road closures at its April 11 meeting.

“’Tis the season to close roads, I guess,” First Selectman Peter Tesei said.

The board gave its most immediate approval to closing down a portion of Greenwich Avenue for the 16th annual Art to the Avenue event that is slated to take place tonight, May 2. The selectmen unanimously gave the go-ahead to closing the part of Greenwich Avenue from Elm Street to Havemeyer Place from 5:30 until 8:30 p.m. People will be able to take a detour by going east on East Elm Street and then going south on Mason Street before turning west on Havemeyer Place to get back on Greenwich Avenue.

Janet Marchand explained to the selectmen that this would allow for freer pedestrian movement outside the Greenwich Arts Council, and Mr. Tesei said it was a good idea to encourage more people to attend while showcasing the artwork outside the building.

“We’re always excited to have Art to the Avenue,” Mr. Tesei said. “It brings out a lot of great people to see local artists showcase their works.”

Ms. Marchand said that the Greenwich Arts Council was particularly excited about this year’s event.

“This is such a unique event that combines our business community with our creative community,” Ms. Marchand said, before adding that the road closure was designed to encourage more people to take advantage of all the businesses participating and walk around and cross the street freely and mingle while enjoying sidewalk activities, including street entertainers.

The Greenwich High School Jazz Band will be performing outside the building and Mr. Tesei is expected to deliver a proclamation. Mr. Tesei added that he hoped to be able to also use the opportunity to pay tribute to former First Selectman Ruth Sims, the first woman to hold the position in Greenwich, who passed away last June and had made the town green area next to the Havemeyer Building on Greenwich Avenue a priority.

“Ruth Sims was instrumental in designating the land across the street from this as parkland, and I’ve done all the research to confirm that this happened under her tenure,” Mr. Tesei said. “That evening, in tandem with this event, we will have a plaque dedication for the tree that is across the way. Her tie to the arts is that she was also instrumental in dedicating the building set aside for the Senior Center and the Arts Council, so I thought this was a very appropriate time to do this as a fitting tribute to someone who had a lasting impact on the town.”

Looking ahead, the selectmen also gave their unanimous approval to close down a portion of Sound Beach Avenue in June for the Old Greenwich Block Party. The event, which is in its second year, is expanding and moving from Arcadia Road to Sound Beach Avenue, the main stretch into Old Greenwich. Richard Fulton, head of the Old Greenwich Merchants Association, said the event had been such a success last year that they wanted to do this one in more of the style of the popular “first light” event held in Old Greenwich in December.

“We wanted to have a bit more space this year and get it a little closer to the food vendors that will be participating,” Mr. Fulton told the selectmen. “We thought it would be easier on them, easier on us and provide more space for people to enjoy themselves if we did it this way.”

The block party will be held June 29, and under the approved plan, Sound Beach Avenue will be closed off south of Arcadia Road and north of Old Greenwich School starting at 4 p.m., with the event itself beginning at 6 and then lasting until 9 p.m., with the road scheduled to reopen at 10. A detour would be in place for traffic going southbound on Sound Beach so it could go east on Arcadia and then south on Park Avenue and west on Lockwood Road. For northbound traffic, it would then go east on Lockwood, north on Park and west on Arcadia.

Sgt. John Slusarz, head of the Greenwich Police Department’s traffic division, said it was a “good plan” that addressed all public safety issues, including access in case of emergency for the Sound Beach Volunteer Fire Department.

“I think the event will highlight not just the local businesses but also kind of focus on the Fire Department and emergency services down there,” Sgt. Slusarz said. “The kids really like to see that sort of thing, and it’s good to show off the town’s heroes. That’s an additional benefit to this thing.”

The selectmen expressed eagerness for the event to take place.

“It was great all around last year and we’re glad you’re stepping up and doing it again,” Selectman David Theis told Mr. Fulton.

“It’s great to see things like this in Greenwich and give our communities a chance to show themselves off,” Selectman Drew Marzullo added.

This was not the only road closure approved that will impact Old Greenwich, however. The selectmen also gave unanimous approval to two long-term closures in order to assist the replacement of the water main along Shore Road and Sound Beach Avenue in Old Greenwich.

For Shore Road, the selectmen unanimously approved a daily weekday closure from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. along with a detour plan that covers April 29 through July 15. Under the plan, for people to access Shore Road west of Sound Beach they may take Keofferam Road to Wahnetta Road to Shore or take Keofferam to Nawthorne Road onto Shore. To access the road east of Sound Beach they can take several options from Tait Road to Benjamin Street to Lincoln Avenue onto Sound Beach and then Shore, Grant Avenue to Clark Street to Sound Beach to Shore, Binney Lane to Ford Lane to Shore, or Sylvan Lane to Binney to Ford to Shore.

Residents in the impacted area will be allowed access to and from their homes by stopping work so construction plates can be placed across the work zones. Work will not be done on weekends.

On Sound Beach Avenue, the closure will not take place until Sept. 9 but is expected to last until Dec. 1 and will also be from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays. Eastbound traffic will be detoured off Sound Beach onto St. Claire Avenue or Lincoln Avenue and then onto Benjamin Street to Tait to Shore. An alternate route of Clark Street to Grant Avenue to Shore will also be utilized. For those going west, traffic will be detoured onto Shore Acre Drive or Keofferam onto North to Wahneta Road to Shore.

During these projects, Aquarion Water Co. will replace 2,700 feet of a six-inch cast iron water main with 12-inch ductile iron main as part of an overall improvement project from the company.

“Unfortunately, this is going to be inconvenient for the community, but it’s a pain we have to endure to get this improvement,” Mr. Tesei said.

 

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