By Charlene Lovett
Given the challenges that many are facing during this pandemic, a community making progress in numerous areas might seem unlikely. However, such is the case in Claremont. It is not a new phenomenon for the city. In the most challenging periods of our nation’s history, we have chosen to invest in ourselves. It is an approach that has proven successful throughout the centuries and continues to this day.
Most mornings I take long walks around different parts of the city. It is a chance to see the city from a different vantage point other than the driver’s seat. What I have seen throughout the spring and summer months is inspiring and speaks of community pride and determination to move forward despite today’s challenges. Whether public or private, business or residence, there are countless examples of people investing in themselves and in their community.
Here are just a few examples of what has happened so far in 2020:
Previously condemned due to non-compliance of fire and safety codes, this building was completely gutted and rebuilt to house 36 new apartment units and commercial space. Earlier this year, the project, representing over an $11 million investment, was completed. It is the largest investment in the city center since the completion of the mill project in 2009.
Earlier this summer, the dealership completed the construction of its new building on Charlestown Road. This new, larger, state of the art building will enable McGee Toyota to expand its operations, improve customer service and employ more people.
Arrowhead Ski Lodge
Run by volunteers committed to providing winter recreational activities at affordable prices, this facility has become a regional draw for tourists. As a nonprofit it is difficult to acquire the financial resources needed for capital improvements. However, unanticipated revenue that the city received from the state last October, provided the funds needed to replace the roof, doors, windows and the HVAC system, increasing energy efficiencies and protecting the lodge’s longevity.
Claremont School District
Due to financial constraints, school district budgets have historically not included much funding for capital improvements. As a result, maintenance needs have long been deferred creating many deficiencies and negatively impacting operational costs. As a result of the unanticipated revenue that the school district received last October, many issues are being resolved. Some school facilities are getting new roofs, air conditioning units, drainage and paving. The Dow building on Broad Street has a new chimney and plans are underway to do exterior renovations. All of which ensure that students and faculty are in a healthy environment that promotes learning.
Owned by the Claremont Development Authority, this building is located in the city center and houses the Claremont Dental Initiative and several other businesses/offices. Due to the condition of the second level, it has been vacant for quite some time. A renovation of the entire second level and the installation of an elevator is almost complete, enabling the Dental Initiative to expand its services and provide the conditions necessary for full building occupancy.
Because this year’s municipal budget includes more funding for roads, improvements can be seen throughout the city. Actions are being taken to protect the longevity of roads recently paved, and address those that have needed attention for quite some time. Paving on Broad Street, one of our main thoroughfares, is almost complete. A new intersection, designed to improve traffic flow and protect public safety, near the Walmart entrance on Washington Street is also nearing completion.
Sidewalk, trail improvements
With the receipt of several state-funded grants, sidewalks and the Bobby Woodman Trail have been given greater attention. This year, both Belding and East Street sidewalks were completely replaced. Trail and trail head improvements were also completed on the Bobby Woodman Trail. Such improvements to the walkability of the community are not only attractive to residents, but also those who are contemplating making Claremont their home.
These are just a few examples of the larger investments that are being made in the city this year. However, it is not a comprehensive picture. Many businesses and homeowners are making improvements to their properties. Volunteers are working throughout the city on beautification projects. Collectively, we are making Claremont a more desirable place to work, live and play. Once again, in times of adversity, we are a community focused on progress.
Charlene Lovett is the mayor of Claremont and a 22-year Army veteran. She welcomes your feedback. Please email questions, comments or concerns to her at email@example.com.