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Downtown Plan Nears Final Approval

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:

Short-term

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.

Mid-term

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.

Long-term

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