WINDHAM — It's a project that will help bridge this community's past with its future.
The Windham Town Common Beautification Committee hosted an information meeting Wednesday, inviting residents to view conceptual designs for the future of the space off Route 111 and North Lowell Road.
The Windham Board of Selectmen established the committee in 2015 to look at ways to improve parts of the common area in town.
The overall project includes improving areas near the historic Town Hall, the Armstrong Building, Community Development Building, town pound, Veterans Memorial and the grassy common area behind the senior center and Bartley building.
Sidewalks, LED light poles, trees, gardens, and updated parking areas are also part of the plan.
Committee co-chairman Peter Griffin said the project also includes the construction of a new cast iron aluminum bridge over Collins Brook that will replace the current structure that is aging and not handicapped accessible.
A fundraising campaign, the Bridge to Beautification, is underway to support this phase of the overall plan.
Conceptual renderings of the Town Common project were displayed at the common's gazebo. Other committee members are co-chairman Kathleen DiFruscia, Frank Farmer, Siri Wilbur, Cheryl Haas and David Sullivan.
Sullivan, Windham's town administrator, said a lot of work has already been done over the past several years, including a lot of brush clearing near the culvert under Route 111 that uncovered hidden and intricate field stone.
In November of 2018, the Veterans Memorial area was dedicated.
"It's coming along very nicely," Sullivan said. "Our hope is to make it a more defined town center. It's a great project."
Rex Norman, Windham's community development director, said the project will help Windham have a true town center.
"We need to make it a focal point of the town," he said.
Griffin noted that Windham has some very historic buildings that are integral parts of the plan. He said the current town hall building is perhaps the most historic in the community, constructed by residents in the 18th century as sort of a "barn-raising" effort. What is now the community development building was the community's first fire station. And the Armstrong building, now the town museum, once served as a town library and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places for both architecture and its history in the community.
Even the town pound will get enhancements, Griffin said. Clearing and improvements planned near the stony enclosure open up sight lines for drivers, coming into the town center, from North Lowell Road.
Haas, also Windham's recreation director, said she is excited for the project as it will also offer more opportunities for activities and events to be planned.
"It's nice to have an actual Town Common to keep the character of the town," Haas said.
Griffin said the project is a long time in the making.
"This whole area was forgotten," he said. "The thread running through this whole project is the history of the buildings that run through this town center."
The new bridge may cost approximately $40,000, Griffin said, but once in place the structure will be maintenance free with a galvanized metal finish.
Donor opportunities to support the bridge include: $10,000 for gold sponsorship; $5,000 for silver, and $2,500 for bronze, with those donors to be recognized on a plaque near the new bridge. Griffin said all levels of support are welcome.
For information or to learn more about donating to the project, email email@example.com or call 603-965-1208.