Businesses greet challenge of construction with affirmation

Existential dispair, in the form of Munch's the Scream, meets Jan Whitted of the Capital Square Business Association on Tuesday night.

Existential despair, in the form of Munch’s The Scream, meets Jan Whitted of the Capitol Square Business Association May 27.

About 25 local residents, Mass. Ave. business owners, and town officials met at the Fox Library earlier this evening to discuss how to respond to the challenges of Mass. Ave. construction that is scheduled to start shortly and span 3 years.

The answer: Celebrate it.

Banners, guerrilla art, a treasure hunt, special events, and a constant flow of information will turn the East Arlington into more of a destination than ever, according to Artbeat owner Jan Whitted of the Capitol Square Business Association.

With the motto “I can dig it,” and the symbol of a butterfly (“watch me transform”), at least some business owners are looking forward to the permanent improvements that the backhoes, cement trucks, and steamrollers will build.

One of four task groups that met at Tuesday's meeting at the Fox Library in East Arlington

One of four task groups that met at Tuesday’s meeting at the Fox Library in East Arlington

Businesses present included Za, the Capitol Theater, Maxima Gift Center, Luv and Other Gifts, Quebrada, and Artbeat.

Whitted said that the vision is to thrive “not in spite of construction but because of it.”

She said the meeting was relocated to the Fox from Artbeat to accommodate a crowd that was larger than initially expected.

According to last week’s announcements from the Town and from MassDOT, temporary construction signage should start to appear on Mass. Ave. this week, and there is a pre-construction community meeting at the Thompson School the evening of June 16.

The Thompson meeting will come just two days after East Arlington’s annual Feast of the East street party.

Not that they have much choice, but these businesses are determined to embrace this change, and they are bursting with creative ideas.

cap sq.

A more hopeful image from the presentation at the meeting earlier tonight.





6 comments so far

  1. Karin Turer on

    Honestly, the Capitol Square Business Association should host a Mass Ave project Touch-a-Truck for the kids of the neighborhood. I am not joking! I have a 3 year old and since he is construction-truck-obsessed, I have a very positive take on the Mass Ave project: years of free easy entertainment. :)

    But seriously, some sort of kid-oriented truck-focused event would be a great way to reach out to neighborhood families and make lemons out of (temporary) lemonade.

    • Adam Auster on

      That’s a great idea! And very much in the spirit of what the Cap Square people were talking about at the meeting.

    • Jan Whitted on

      Karin, in response to your request, I asked the DOT to provide a construction vehicle to be on display during Capitol Square’s upcoming Feast of the East on June 14 – and they have agreed! So watch for it – there will be a detailed festival program available later this week at

  2. Louise Popkin on

    I, for one, am committed to going out of my way to patronize the East Arlington businesses even more than I do now during this difficult period. I’m also sure I will do so after the construction is over because it will be such a pleasure to hang out in that part of town.

  3. Mark Kaepplein on

    I expect the first construction season should be the least difficult, with mostly sidewalk reconstruction taking place prior to the 3 year easements expiring. Little more than short term parking loss in small areas at a time, pedestrian re-routing, and plywood ramps to get into businesses. There could be a lane loss bottleneck to accommodate pedestrians around sidewalk under reconstruction, but information hasn’t been released about how it would all take place.

    • Adam Auster on

      Well, we’ve known for a year that the sidewalks are the first order of business.

      I think the easements were executed to conform to the schedule and not the other way around.

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