Optimism, Fun, and Construction in Chester
Lark owner Suzie Woodward thanks bridge project workers with fresh cookies, a smile, and a thank you note. (Photo courtesy of Suzie Woodward )
Armed with high spirits, a good sense of humor, and a healthy dose of optimism, the Chester merchants aren’t letting the trivial inconvenience of total bridge reconstruction in the center of town get them down. Instead, they’re taking it in stride and making the best of things.
The Villager Restaurant is keeping things light with new, topical menu offerings, including sandwiches like The Caution Tape, The Cement Mixer, One Way Street, and No Parking.
Suzie Woodward, owner of Lark on Water Street, has taken to supplying cookies to the hardworking crew members outside her shop who are getting the bridge work done.
The Chester Historical Society is scheduling special programs like the walking tour that will be held this upcoming Sunday at the Chester Meeting House, where guests will have the opportunity to hear memories from people who were in Chester when It Happened to Jane was filmed in town, back in 1958.
According to the historical society, Jack Lemmon, who starred in the movie, said, “The community of Chester is serenely beautiful, but I was also deeply impressed at how thoughtful and friendly all the people were to us Hollywood folk” and co-star Doris Day also praised the small town, saying, “Filming in your town was one of the nicest things that’s ever happened to me. All of you were so wonderful, so warm, so friendly, and so cooperative that I shall never forget it.”
Although right now the downtown area of Chester is not looking very movie ready, over all the residents are banding together to get through this difficult time and making every effort to continue to support the local businesses, especially those directly affected by the work.
First Selectman Lauren Gister is keeping residents updated via the town’s website as to any changes in the project
“It’s been a little confusing,” said Gister. “We are currently discussing additional signage that will hopefully help with directing drivers where to go.
“In regard to the workers, they have been very, very diligent,” Gister continued. “If they lose an hour, due to equipment malfunction, they make up the hour. They have been very communicative, hard working and amazingly considerate and I have gotten nothing but compliments about them.”
“I feel as though I have my own observation deck of the project from my store and it has been wonderful to watch,” said Woodward, who is excited about the end result. “I think it is early to tell how this project is affecting the downtown businesses, but we want to make sure that people know we are here, we are open for business, and there is always a way to get to us.”
Gister added, “We are getting through this as a town. Optimism is the name of the game.”
The original time line has May as an end date for major construction. At this point, the project is on track to meet that deadline. Depending on weather, work will continue through the rest of the winter.
If you can’t find a place to park in the center of town there are several other options include the newly renovated Laurel Hill Cemetery parking lot, the Water Street lot, the Maple Street lot, and the Norma Terris Theatre lot. All are public parking options in town.