In this five-part series, leaders of local business and neighborhood associations have a chance to talk about what they love about West Hartford.
By Lisa Lelas, as seen in West Hartford Magazine, Issue 1, 2015
Photos by Todd Fairchild/ShutterbugCT.com
Even if you didn’t grow up here, it’s impossible to miss the many positive changes that have come to West Hartford over the past few years.
The cornerstones for a significant part of that metamorphosis are West Hartford’s four strong business associations that have nurtured, encouraged, and served as the foundation for change and development: West Hartford Center Business Association, Elmwood Business Association, Park Road Association and Bishops Corner Neighborhood Association. And alongside them all the way is the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce.
We-Ha.com will spotlight each association in this five-part series, and this is the fourth installment. Click here to read about the West Hartford Center Business Association , Elmwood Business Association and The Park Road Association.
Bishop’s Corner Neighborhood Association
Robert “Bob” Fressola is president of the Bishops Corner Neighborhood Association and as a proud resident of the neighborhood knows firsthand what Bishops Corner really feels like.
“My wife and I both feel very strongly about our community. We have two kids growing up here (third grade and kindergarten at Bugbee). I’ve lived in West Hartford for about 10 years, been in the Bishops Corner area for about six of those years,” Bob says.
The Association was started about 40-50 years ago. As Bob explains, “It used to be strictly for residents. The Post Office was once thinking about closing the Bishops Corner location and suddenly, residents sprang into action to prevent it. Primarily, residential issues would come to life as various issues came up. People like Rob Rowlson, Chuck Coursey and myself, with others, made the decision to pump new life into the area and resurrect it. We decided to move forward as a combination association whereby businesses and residents actively participate together. What’s unique about our Association now is that it’s comprised of residents, as well as business owners. There are eight board members. Half of our board is made up of business owners and a big chunk of our meetings is now geared to local businesses.”
The Bishops Corner Neighborhood Association meets on the second Friday of each month (8-9 a.m.) at the Bishops Corner Senior Center. There are no dues. About 20-30 people typically show up for the meetings.
“Two residents in particular, Sidney Rogalski (vice president), and Jack Bass (treasurer) were original board members and kept the group going over the past few decades, helping us through the transformation,” says Bob.
And what a transformation it has been. “It’s pretty exciting to see all the new development and redevelopment in Bishops Corner. When I first moved here, the four corners looked tired … then transformations began, starting with the Whole Foods/Walgreens Plaza and continuing through the current Albany Avenue residential project (transforming a former nursing home to several hundred residential units). More residents moving into this neighborhood mean more money to be spent in our area. Also 12 new town houses across from Big Y are coming in as well. As various business parcels continue getting developed, the need for more residential areas continues to grow,” Bob says.
The Association is proud of the events and opportunities it has brought to their community. They sponsor the Bishops Corner Farmers Market every Saturday in the Crown Market parking lot in warm weather months and sponsor summer poetry nights at Max’s and Blue Plate Kitchen.
“We’ve met with the town and state Department of Transportation to make Albany Avenue and North Main Street (the main intersection) more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. Already, more safety crossings and better signage is getting in place,” says Bob.
And Bob continues, “We can’t stress enough the many volunteer opportunities we have available … from the Farmers Market committee to the Marketing committee, helping the Association with re-branding and community outreach, to the Arts committee, tasked with putting on events, like the poetry nights. A ‘meet the artists’ night is another event coming soon.”
“There is a shift in the country where people are now moving back toward city centers and closer to more populated suburbs. Bishops Corner is unique because it’s walkable and bike-able.” Bob adds with a smile, “Quite simply, we’ve got everything here!”
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