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Municipal Spotlight: Expanded Activities, Events Planned at Town Common

The Town Common Trustees are, from left, Leo Dalpe, Larry Sposato, Barbara Eltzroth, Joanne Arcand, and David Wyatt.

Contributing Writer
Winter is now in our rear-view mirror and spring’s arrival emphasizes that a variety of activities and events at Bellingham’s Town Common will soon be getting underway.
After a dormant year when the pandemic struck in 2020, the Common bounced back in 2021 to a more normal level of activity. However, what’s in store for 2022 no doubt will be welcomed because the Town Common Trustees, led by Chairman Larry Sposato, are planning to unveil some expanded activities and additions.
A farmers’ market, a story trail and an adopt-a-garden program are on the drawing board.
The farmers’ market would feature local farmers and individuals selling their produce at the Common. The story trail, which will have podiums or bookstands scattered throughout the grounds, would emphasize a variety of themes, such as local history, sports or children’s books. The adopt-a-garden program (strictly flowers) would generate donations from businesses, civic organizations or individuals and they would sponsor the endeavor. A placard would be placed in the garden to acknowledge their generosity.
“Another new twist is to allow permitted vendors to showcase and sell their merchandise at fairs on the Common grounds,’’ said Sposato, who also serves as Bellingham’s Town Clerk. “Also in the planning stages are more concerts featuring local performers. These would be in addition to the Cable 8 Summer Concert Series. Last year, the Oliver Brothers (Bellingham high graduates) performed before a large and appreciative crowd.’’
Other changes will include refurbishing of the fountain that was next to the Civil War Monument when both were situated in front of the First Baptist Church. The Civil War Monument now is located at the Common to the right of the War Memorial when entering the Common from Route 140. A new walkway will be constructed from the Civil War Monument leading to the World War I and John Peterson Memorials that were moved because of the downtown road-widening project.
Events and activities for children will include the playground, story-time lunches, a children’s concert, a Halloween event and pony rides during Cable 8 concerts.
When the pandemic’s grip eased last year, the common hosted a series of events that had been canceled in 2020. They included the Cable 8 Concert Series, a children’s concert, a baby shower, three weddings, the annual Memorial Day ceremony, the Oliver Brothers special concert, story-time lunches, the tree lighting ceremony and visit from Santa, a concert sponsored by the library, and a charity benefit to raise funds for a disabled child and raise awareness about her rare affliction.
The Common’s grounds (mowing and upkeep) are maintained by the Parks Department and the DPW. Sposato specifically acknowledges Anthony Cifizarri, a tax work-off participant who “treats the common’s grounds as he would his own backyard.’’
For more than 20 years, the Common had been self-supporting in dealing with maintenance costs. The majority of operating funds were derived from the Bank of America’s ATM kiosk. According to Sposato, the bank opted out of its lease renewal last year. “After unsuccessfully attempting to find a new lessee, it was decided that the Town Common would become a department within the town, with an operating budget like any other town department,’’ Sposato said.
The Common, which is 25 years old, was dedicated on Nov. 22, 1997. The site was originally the home of an Almacs grocery store. When the store moved to where Market Basket is now located, the town purchased the property for $265,000 after approval at Town Meeting in 1995. The Almacs building was demolished after Town Meeting approval in 1996. Funds totaling $550,000 to create the Common were okayed in October, 1996 at Town Meeting.
A Town Common Committee was formed early in the 1990s to study the feasibility of a Common, and in 1997 by a legislative act at the state level, the Board of Trustees was formed. The current board consists of Sposato, Vice Chairman David Wyatt, Treasurer Leo Dalpe, Secretary Joanne Arcand and Events Co-ordinator Barbara Eltzroth.
“With expanded activities and events, the Trustees hope to attract more residents to this beautiful common,’’ Sposato said. “Residents are encouraged to stop by and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the Common when no events are scheduled.’’
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