It is exciting to see work finally moving forward at Ball & Socket Arts off of West Main Street.
The process of turning the old factory into a hub of activity, with art galleries, a restaurant, and perhaps even a brewery offered for the enjoyment of the community, has always been an enticing concept and perhaps the best use of the expansive yet rundown brick factory in desperate need of re-purposing.
This has been a long slog for the founders of Ball & Socket Arts, who have painstakingly moved the ball forward on the project year after year, plan after plan. While there has been a lot of behind-the-scenes action, the facility itself has remained the same, leaving many in the community to wonder if the much-discussed project would ever really come to fruition.
Now, with work being done to make at least one building inhabitable within the next year-plus, those driving on West Main Street can finally see the fruits of so much labor. Slowly but surely, the plan to bring Ball & Socket Arts to life is charging ahead.
Of course, much is left to be done. The success of this huge endeavor is far from certain. According to organizers, the total cost to bring the dream of Ball & Sockets Arts into reality is expected to be approximately $15 million. That’s a lot of money to raise and it will require more years of dedication.
But if there is one thing Ball & Socket Arts organizers have shown, it’s that they are in it for the long haul. Many would have given up by now, but the founders of this project are still there, still pushing the plan and looking confidently to the future.
Having something actively happening on the site can’t help but aid in their efforts, and we hope that, in addition to the remediation work being done, organizers look for other ways to showcase their concept to the community as a whole, including would-be donors. Perhaps a large rendering on site, showing exactly what the facility is expected to look like when completed, would be a way to show Cheshire exactly what the payoff is expected to be.
West Main Street has long been promoted by local leaders as perhaps the only spot in town suitable for something resembling a New England town center. We have had our doubts about that, given the traffic on the roadways and the topography of the area. However, if it’s ever to be the center of Cheshire activity, Ball & Socket Arts must be the lynchpin.
Add art galleries, a restaurant, a brewery and a small performance center in the middle of West Main, accessible via the Farmington Canal Trail, and you may just be able to create that Norman Rockwell-esque feel Cheshire residents have been craving for so long.
But it all starts with Ball & Socket, and that means moving away from just talking about what the new “destination spot” will be, an actually working, shovel-in-ground, to make it happen. We are glad to see it has. We hope it is a sign of good things to come.