Foster fights blight, Glocester boosts business in 2019

Foster fights blight, Glocester boosts business in 2019

The rural towns of Foster and Glocester move to the beat of their own drum, and in 2019, each town’s highs and lows were as unique as their villages.

Popular storylines in Foster in 2019 included the town becoming a Second Amendment Sanctuary Town, the Planning Board attacking blight on Route 6, and the re-opening of Danny’s Auction house.

Glocester continued its plan to become a shopping destination for patrons looking for unique, locally-owned shops. Thanks to the town planner and Economic Development Commission’s efforts, Main Street in Chepachet continues to grow in popularity with local events such as the Scarecrow Festival and Candlelight Shopping drawing in more people

For too long, dilapidated and crumbling structures have lined Route 6, say planning officials in Foster, causing new businesses and construction to shy away.

In hopes of drawing more business and building a stronger tax base, the Planning Board wrote to the Town Council about the six blighted buildings and structures along Route 6 that are a “threat to public safety.”

While the council agreed that building code should be enforced on property owners, it did not agree with what they called Planning Board Chairman Ron Cervasio’s disrespectful actions to residents and council members.

Cervasio’s unprofessional comments, namely calling Foster a “s---hole town,” got him booted from the board last July.

Earlier in the year, Foster made headlines when it joined the ranks of rural Rhode Island towns to become a Second Amendment Sanctuary Town allowing Foster police officers to use their discretion when enforcing Gov. Gina Raimondo’s gun law.

The Foster Town Council unanimously passed the Sanctuary Town resolution last May, weeks before Raimondo’s bill banning assault-style weapons, limiting the number of bullets allowed in a clip, and prohibiting guns on school grounds unless carried by a police officer passed.

More than 100 residents came out to support the resolution, arguing that there should be stricter penalties for people who misuse guns instead of restricting guns.

Glocester’s year was highlighted in particular by economic development in Main Street in Chepachet, where new small businesses opened up through zoning changes and other efforts to revitalize the village.

The Glocester Economic Development Commission focused efforts on filling empty shelves in downtown Chepachet last year, with the Town Council recommissioning the EDC in February.

The EDC worked closely with Town Planner Karen Scott to make and implement changes to promote economic growth in town while maintaining its rural, historic character.

Scott said changing the zoning ordinance to mixed-use along the main strip in Chepachet appealed to small business owners who want to purchase empty buildings to use the first floor as a business front and the second floor as a home.

The model has been successful with new businesses such as Lovett’s Fine Cigars and Art on Main Street that rents out space to Underground Yoga.

Last November, the National Park Service awarded a $250,000 grant to fund historic facelifts for three to five buildings along Main Street in Chepachet.