Scott Blair: Chester is a family town, not just a historic place

Scott Blair. Photos by Shawn Cunningham.

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Scott Blair sees Chester as a family town that attracts tourists, but he does not see tourism as the town’s primary economic driver. Instead, he says, that economic  driver is small business and he believes the town needs to do a better job encouraging them.

“The town needs to work with small businesses,” says Blair. Pointing to signage as an example, ” business owners feel the town is dragging its feet.” That’s one reason why he declared as a write-in candidate for one of two seats on the Chester Select Board. Leigh Dakin is also running as a write-in and they face incumbent Ben Whalen.

“I think the town should be more flexible with businesses, give them options and understand what the businesses need – not just a yes or no” says Blair.

Still, he sees progress. “We’ve been here on the Green for three and a half years and seen the small business grow, but slowly,” Blair says noting that his customer base at Southern Pie has been 60 percent locals and 40 percent visitors.

Where can Chester look for growth? Blair sees attracting young families as a big part of the answer with recreation opportunities as an important attraction.

“People come here and see that a town this size has a skating rink, skate park and a pool,” says Blair who believes that the role of the town should be “pushing the name of Chester as a family town, not just a historic place.”

Recreation is an important part of Blair’s life. He coaches baseball and basketball for the Recreation Department and the middle school. His other volunteer work has included serving on the board of the Okemo Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Chester brochure committee and the winter carnival committee.

Blair sees the 1,800 acre Tomasso property as being a potentially “great investment for the town with lots of opportunity.” The town is currently gathering information and doing a public study to see whether owning the property would be possible and beneficial to the town.

“It’s a nice piece of land for recreation,” said Blair. “We could capitalize on that.”

Blair also believes events and other activities will attract and retain new residents and supports creating a position that would help the town schedule and manage events to spread them out on the calendar. “An events manager would be huge to help the town capitalize on its assets.”

Those assets include the Green, which sits empty of events most of the time. “There’s not even a picnic table,” says Blair, who would like to see more events and people using that space.

At the same time, Blair says people need to get involved in things to keep them going. “What’s going to happen when the people who do the Townscape retire?  A dozen young families have moved here in the past year,” says Blair. “We need to reach out to them, make them feel welcome and get them involved in those kinds of organizations.”

With regard to the recent dust-up over the condition of the Grafton Road, Blair says that the roads that connect towns need to be up to par and work should be done as soon as possible. At the same time Blair says that communicating is the way to get things done.

Blair says he would bring to the job both fresh energy and the feedback he gets from his daily contact with both residents and visitors. “I think the town is going in the right direction but it needs energy to keep going and to make the most of what we have,” says Blair. “I have fresh energy.”

About Scott Blair

  • Born and raised in Lebanon, N.H.
  • Attended Johnson and Wales University for internet management and web design.
  • Moved to Chester five years ago.
  • Started home-baking business with wife Leslie.
  • Opened Southern Pie Company on Green in February 2016
  • Opened Main Street Coffee and Scoop Shoppe in September 2018.
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