Ridgefield's Summer Sidewalk Stroll underway
Wayne Addessi credited the idea to a Ridgefield resident.
“Debra Franceschini-Gatje,” said Addessi, a Main Street business owner and landlord. “She read that Greenwich was allowing its businesses to have sidewalk shopping this summer and thought it might be good for Ridgefield to do something similar.”
Franceschini-Gatje contacted inRidgefield — a website Addessi launched two years ago to promote and market the town —and Addessi reached out to First Selectman Rudy Marconi.
Well aware that local businesses were struggling financially due to COVID-19 shutdowns and skyrocketing unemployment, Marconi green-lighted and fast-tracked the idea, announcing last week that Ridgefield businesses would be allowed to sell items on sidewalk displays from July 1 through Sept. 7.
“The whole process went very quickly,” Addessi said. “Rudy completely agreed that Ridgefield businesses could benefit by having sidewalk shopping.
“And it’s for all businesses in Ridgefield that are interested,” Addessi added. “It’s not just for the places on Main Street.”
In addition to aiding town merchants, the summer-long event is also designed to benefit local non-profit organizations — many of which have seen a decline in donations. Each business can “adopt” a non-profit in town and help promote its mission through pamphlets and other information included as part of the sidewalk displays.
“For example, suppose you really believe in ROAR (Ridgefield Operation Animal Rescue),” Addessi said. “You could choose ROAR as the nonprofit you want to help and then incorporate it into your own sidewalk merchandising. That’s the kind of partnership we want to promote.”
Addessi is hopeful that the Summer Sidewalk Stroll can expand to include outdoor events presented by the town’s various arts and cultural organizations.
“I think once the summer stroll gets going, more people will want to get involved,” he said. “It would be great to have some artistic performances as part of this.”
During the sidewalk stroll, town businesses are permitted to display merchandise on tables or under tents and also place temporary signage in front of their shops. Patrons need to follow safety protocols, including wearing face masks and social distancing.
In an email sent June 18 to the Fire Marshall and several town departments, Marconi listed the following 10 rules that businesses participating in the sidewalk stroll must adhere to:
1. Earnest efforts must be made to be mindful of pedestrians and maintain footpath lane on the sidewalk.
2. The tables displaying merchandise and other promotional equipment will not unduly impede or endanger either pedestrian or vehicular traffic and must not be set up within parking spaces.
3. Fire hydrants must remain accessible and driveways may not be blocked.
4. Building egress may not be blocked by tables, racks, tents, or any other items.
5. The clothing racks, tables will be positioned parallel to buildings and not perpendicular which causes them to protrude into the walkway.
6. Extension cords, if used, must be properly installed to avoid trip hazards.
7. All tents must be properly weighted down, provide proper clearance for pedestrians to enter/occupy them, and be properly lit should they be left up after sale hours. Tents may not be tied to and/or obstruct fire hydrants, Fire Department sprinkler connections on the building, or block exit doors. It is encouraged to have a fire extinguisher easily accessible. Tents may not be erected within any portion of a parking space.
8. Only bonafide Ridgefield businesses will participate and will display wares only in front of their own establishments.
9. All businesses participating in this event will abide by all federal, state and local laws and ordinances, and executive orders.
10. By close of business on September 8, 2020 all sale items, tents, tables and promotional materials must be removed from the sidewalks.
“There will be restrictions ... but this is something we hope will draw more people into town,” Marconi said last week when announcing the sidewalk stroll. ““There is a lot of worry and fear. Having curbside pickup and delivery and selling more products online has helped — just not enough to cover the business that was lost in the shutdown.”