Remember Westport’s Downtown Master Plan?
The 1st draft of the 159-page document — the result of several years’ worth of meetings, surveys and studies — was introduced with moderate fanfare in January.
Now — after 5 more months of restructuring and reorganization — the final draft is done.
Larry Untermeyer’s spectacular aerial photo in the opening pages of the planning report highlights the inherent charm — and problems — of downtown.
The 44 recommendations from the RBA Group consultants — ranging from big-picture creative ideas to practical smaller improvements — are are almost all the same.
But the document itself is much more intuitive and user-friendly. It includes far more illustrations, demonstrating some of the concepts and proposed changes. The section on storm waters and flooding — crucial to any Westport downtown plan — is deeper (ho ho). The “design guidelines” section has been beefed up with more examples, guidance and photos.
Greater emphasis is placed on management issues — for example, how to implement all these projects, and how to improve downtown services.
A newly detailed implementation and funding section notes — for each project – who will be involved, and which permits to obtain, legal issues to address and approvals to secure.
Finally, there are new cost estimates, accompanied by likely sources of funding: private developer contributions, other private partner funds, state and federal grants, and/or town capital funding.
The Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge looks spectacular — in this view. The river is one key to unifying all of downtown. (Photo/Alan Hamilton — William Raveis Real Estate)
Downtown Steering Committee chair Melissa Kane and her group have done a thorough, clear job. They have made their plan as easy to understand as possible.
On June 4, her committee voted to accept the report as the final document. Next, they’ll present it to the board of selectmen — hopefully at a nighttime meeting, with all town boards in attendance. That date has not yet been set.
“We’re very proud of our work,” Kane says. “A lot of ‘Westport’ has gone into this.'”
To read the full report, click here.
Meanwhile, here are some highlights:
- Improve and complete the sidewalk network throughout downtow
- Redesign Church Lane into a “shared street”
- Support improvements to Toquet Hall
- Support the redevelopment of the west side riverfront
- Restore and revitalize Elm Street
- Coordinate with and integrate redevelopment of the west side riverfront
- Build a pedestrian bridge crossing the Saugatuck
- Create a Westport Arts & Culture Heritage “Trail”
- Improve pedestrian safety at Post Road crossings
- Improve pedestrian and vehicular safety at Post Road intersections through traffic signal modifications
- Redesign Myrtle Avenue intersections
- Improve traffic movements at the Route 1/33 intersection
Traffic often backs up on Wilton Road, near the Post Road intersection. Development of the west side of the river is an important element of the Downtown Master Plan.
- Improve the wayfinding system for motorists
- Develop directional and informational signs for pedestrians
- Support initiatives to access and connect downtown through transit
- Provide amenities for public transit passengers
- Provide bicycle parking in downtown
- Combine and co-manage public and private parking lots (Baldwin lot with Avery Place; Gillespie Center with old Town Hall)
- Redesign the Main Street/Elm Street intersection
- Change parking from 1-hour to 2-hour maximum in downtown
- Implement seasonal valet parking
- Relocate long-term parking to south of Post Road
- Coordinate flood prevention efforts with neighboring upstream towns
- Replace existing culverts and pipes; conduct flood audits of downtown commercial properties; control building development in downtown’s flood hazard zone
- Coordinate with and integrate the library transformation project
- Transform Parker Harding Plaza
- Reinvent Jesup Green
- Provide public restrooms (either on Jesup or Parker Harding)
- Redesign Taylor Place into a “shared street”
- Coordinate with and integrate the relocation of the Westport Arts Center
- Coordinate with and integrate the Westport Cinema Initiative
- Implement/install standard streetscape elements throughout downtown
- Create/improve pedestrian passageways
- Create a new street: Library Lane
- Build a bridge to connect to the Imperial Avenue parking lot; improve the appearance and safety of the lot
- Redesign Jesup Road
- Evaluate implementing a real-time parking information system
- Evaluate a fee-based system to manage parking in certain locations
- Evaluate the need for structured parking at Baldwin/Elm lots
Modifications to Elm Street are shown in this rendering. The old Westport Pizzeria is on the right; Vineyard Vines is hidden behind trees at center.
An illustration of the possible reinvention of Jesup Green shows a pier, and relocation of parking. The library is at right.
- Place a cafe on the green
- Construct a downtown landing
- Create a barge restaurant
- Extend the westside riverwalk
- Evaluate the need for structured parking on police station lot or Gillespie Center/Old Town Hall lot
- Evaluate strategies to combat tidal events/sea level rise