As I discussed in my previous post, the strength of a village is tied to the number and variety of activity centers that can be found within the village. Activity centers can be made both public or private. They share the common theme that they bring people to the village and invite them to stay or return. The larger the number of activity centers, the longer people stay and more often they return. Ultimately these people result in the strength of the village. In the Power of Ten, it is suggested that such things as parks, playgrounds, libraries, ice cream parlors and outdoor cafe’s all add to the strength of a village. The common theme these share is that they draw people to an area. Dennisport has many of these activity centers.
The Power of Ten identifies particular activity centers, but leaves the idea open to your imagination. The following will start with the Power of Ten components, and follows that with additional activity centers.
Mike Stacey Park
The Power of Ten identifies a public park as a needed activity center, it then adds on top of that if the park has a playground, it is an even stronger activity center. Mike Stacey Park meet the first attraction (park) as well as the second (playground). In addition, the park provides for a summer concert series. With that, Mike Stacey Park provides a solid anchor as the first of the the activity centers needed to make a strong village – providing three of the key ingredients.
Dennis Public Library
The Power of Ten establishes a library as another one of the key components in a strong village. Dennisport is the beneficiary of a brand new library. The library provides provides activities both for children (story times on Thursdays and playtime on Fridays), and for adults (Friday Author Series, Language and Computer classes, Film Series, AARP sessions such as the recent Safe Drivers Class) as well as hosting the Cape Cod Genealogical Society Collection. The new library building also contains a Conference Room which is available for community meetings and events, even when the library is closed. The library clearly meets the second activity center identified in the Power of Ten, and provides at least another two of the key ingredients.
Blondies Ice Cream
The third item that the report suggests a strong village needs is an ice cream parlor. Why an ice cream parlor? People will return over and over to get a quick ice cream cone or sundae. Dennisport has Blondies Ice Cream. Blondies not only provides the draw of an ice cream parlor, but as an outside facility it also can rise to the strength of an outdoor cafe. Blondies also provides an historical aspect to Dennisport, the conversion of the old gasoline station to the “museum” cafe pulls together much of what the current vision of Dennisport is all about, tying the future to the past. As an ice cream shop, and an outdoor one at that, Blondie’s provides two more pieces of the puzzle.
We have now addressed the items listed in the Power of Ten and have found Dennisport with 7 of the 10 activity centers addressed in the article. However, that particular list is not an exhaustive one. We need to expand our thinking, what else brings people to Dennisport, and what makes people want to stay awhile. The village includes two churches, a post office, barbershop and a variety of other attractions. The following will address a few of those attractions, making up the power of ten for the village.
Mike’s Barber Shop
Barbershops have long been meeting places. Floyd’s Barber Shop on the old Andy Griffith Show often comes to mind. However, the image of Floyd’s Barber Shop, with all the business of the town being discussed, is not far from the truth. Barber shops and coffee shops are cornerstone activity centers with returning clientele. The presence of Mike’s Barber Shop in Dennisport is clearly one of its features that makes the village strong.
Dennisport Natural Market
Dennisport Natural Market is the food store that is otherwise lacking in Dennisport. The Dennisport Natural Market provides a variety of organic and natural foods. While its not a store the size of the Dennis Public Market, it clearly meets a need in the village. In addition, as an organic and natural food store, it provides specialty foods that brings a very targeted customer base to Dennisport. Every village needs some type of food store, Dennisport Natural Market serves as a critical draw and is definitely part of the Dennisport Power of Ten.
Dennisport General Store
The Dennisport General Store fills out a very active intersection of Main Street and Telegraph Road. The corner includes the Dennis Public Library, Mike’s Barber Shop, Dennisport Natural Market and the Dennisport General Store. The Dennisport General Store provides a wide variety of goods from gourmet foods to clothing and kitchen supplies. While much of the store targets tourists, a critical part of the Dennisport economy, the store offers many things locals need on a regular basis as well.
Moving a little further away, we find more of what makes the Dennisport Village strong. The village and its borders include a stage theater, two churches, a post office and town meeting hall used for child care, starting out with an activity center that is actually located in Harwich.
Harwich Jr. Theater
The Harwich Jr. Theater draws people through-out the year to Dennisport. The Jr. Theater puts on a variety of shows through-out the year, from shows targeted towards children, to adult oriented fare. The theater also provides a variety of lessons in dance and acting.
New Life Christian Center and Dennisport Catholic Church
Traditionally churches located in the centers of villages. Dennisport hosts two such facilities. Churches bring people to the village both on weekends for services and during hte week for a variety of functions. People travelling to church will, often, stay and visit the surrounding activity centers. During the summer of 2008 the Catholic Church parking lot in Dennisport also served host to a Farmer’s Market. These type of public markets are critically important to not only strong villages, but to strong communities and regions. The Farmer’s Market allows local money to remain in the local community allowing for the purchase of fresh produce from local growers. This is both healthier for the people using the Farmer’s Market as well as healthier for the economy.
U.S. Post Office
The U.S. Post Office relocated from the core of the village across the street from Mike Stacey Park to the edge of the village. Post Offices are major recurring attractions and make up strong villages. Recent trends have been for the Post Office to follow the strip mall, seeking less developed areas with ample parking and the ability to combine customer services with mail sorting facilities. Dennisport has been lucky to maintain its post office in the village.
The town owned VIC Hall currently serves a number of purposes, during the day the VIC Hall hosts Cape Cod Child Development’s Head Start Program. The program provides a needed child care service for the village in particular, and the town as a whole. As a child care center VIC Hall draws people on a daily basis, twice a day, to Dennisport. Beyond the child care function, VIC Hall serves as a meeting hall for functions that are too large for the meeting room in the Dennis Public Library and is the village voting center. The property also contains a second village playground.
When it is all totaled, the Dennisport Village Center clearly meets, and exceeds the Power of Ten target. This illustrates that Dennisport has all the tools necessary to turn into a strong healthy economy. On top of all of this, we also now have appropriate village zoning in place. All the village needs is for the economy to turn around and provide the economic resources to take advantage of the attractions and activity centers present in Dennisport.