The Future Of Saugatuck Might Be In Your Hands

Don’t say they didn’t ask.

As part of the “redevelopment of Saugatuck” — which you may or may not realize is being discussed — a 9-month process guided by the Saugatuck Transit Oriented Design Master Plan Steering Committee will “engage community members and a team of planners, engineers, economic planners and historic preservation experts to establish design standards and a master plan to enhance this important gateway for the Town of Westport.”

They’ve hired consultants.

And that firm — Barton & Partners — has created a survey.

The committee wants to make sure that every Westporter’s voice is heard. You can weigh in (and rank) your priorities, in areas like shopping, dining, neighborhood charm, waterfront access, historic significance, green space, transportation and walkability.

So here’s your chance. Click here to take the survey.

And click here for more information on the master plan process.

Westport artist Robert Lambdin’s “Saugatuck in the 19th Century” (1969) prominently featured the swing bridge. What’s next for the neighborhood?

22 responses to “The Future Of Saugatuck Might Be In Your Hands

  1. I think people should take the survey, but I think the survey is skewed towards a plan that omits crucial concerns that have been on the minds of Westporters for decades. For example: there is no mention of preserving history or historical structures. Think Saugatuck and the issue of preserving the William F Cribari Bridge comes to mind. You would have to write this in on the survey. It appears the survey makers didn’t consider this high priority issue worthy of inclusion in their top eight. Another example: the Saugatuck River is an asset to restaurants, residents, and hundreds of recreational boaters, rowers, kayaker, etc. The survey has no way to prioritize the restoration (dredging) or sustaining the health of the river. Choking on diesel? No mention. Want mom and pop stores? No mention. The survey, which I took, seems to be built on other places not on insights into our community.

    • I agree. The survey is simply appalling. And distinctly low information. What an insult. The “choices” for preferred development are all highly urban, large in scale and bear no connection to the historic scale, nature and essential quality of Saugatuck.

      Instead of turning our backs on Saugatuck’s wonderful heritage as a vital manufacturing and shipping center, why aren’t we celebrating it? Why not weave the DNA of beautiful – and contextually relevant – 19th century mill architecture into the guidelines for new construction as was done to great effect in Norwalk?

    • The survey provider, MetroQuest, indicates on their website, that the survey results are available on a daily basis and the town can have access to that data either daily or in any summary format via an excel spreadsheet. The data can also be retained in its entirety by the town. [This will be helpful because the records for the public opinion survey done two years ago for the Compo Beach area (charrettes) do not seem to be available.] The last page of this survey has a link to the town website which details the team of town members who are part of the survey effort. Under FOIA, the entire survey results could be disclosed and updated to the public on the town website for the towns residents to review. Holding onto all the survey records in the public archives would be helpful.

  2. “The Town of Westport, CT is conducting a planning & visioning project…” I’m sorry, “visioning” is not a word!

  3. Carolanne Curry

    Here we go.
    No resident from Old Saugatuck has been asked to sit with the Committee. I personally asked Jim Marpe twice as it appears he was the only one selecting. And Jim personally said “no” twice.
    This makes us all feel that Old Saugatuck is again on the agenda for destruction- either by Charney and Summit Development or by Jim Marpe and TOD. Guess we are not “community members” that TOD members want to acknowledge while there’s money on the table…..

  4. Mary Cookman Schmerker

    I often think that I should refrain from commenting on some of the things posted. In all fairness I have to say for the record I do not live in Westport or even Connecticut any longer. I am a native and still have family in Fairfield County and return as often as I can. With that confession I am compelled to comment that I looked at the survey questions and the Master Plan and I am appalled. The future of Saugatuck is in the crosshairs of someone’s sight. Just reading the titles: A Gateway for “Westport”, “Saugatuck – Transit Orientated Design Master Plan” and finally: “Project Goals” : “Improving the Entrance Experience When Arriving in Westport” give the reader a hint as to what the real goals are. Surveys can be skewed to provide the results that the originators desire to receive. I hope Westport and especially residents of Saugatuck rise up and make noise and get involved. Before I read this piece this morning I read 06880’s “Main Street to Madison Avenue” and comments and clicked on and read the link to “Thoughts Before the Wrecking Ball” about the Burroughs Home. My family has been in Fairfield County since the 1600’s I am currently reading 100+ year old newspaper articles and letters. In one Newspaper article the following is written: “The purchase of the old homestead and its renovation were prompted by loyalty to ancestral traditions and the belief that each old home preserved tends to create patriotism and give added promise of stability.” I’m still trying to place exactly where that home is or probably was and I think it may be in New Fairfield”. I said all of the above to underscore… save Saugatuck, save the Cabrini Bridge. They are important parts of our combined history. Roots are important and give us stability we would not otherwise have.

  5. Remember when they put in the Temp bridge??? We loved it and wanted it to be made permanent..or at least throw out the old Bridge (make it a playground climbing structure) and make the new one just like the temporary. A “survey” and “questionnaire” was sent out and I am sure thrown out….this looks like the same BS!!!!!!!

  6. This survey is skewed, makes no sense for planning purposes and will not give valuable insights. 1. An internet survey has inherent bias in that many people will not take the survey for a variety of reasons. 2. It presumes a whole mess of construction rather than working with what is already there. 3. Parking for the train station should be priority one no matter what. Parking is vital to a train station so why would these developers even add this to “choices” for this proposed redevelopment? Feels like we are being ramrodded into someone’s specific vision for this area. And last, the area of influence includes a lot of homes. What are the developers proposing? Knock down someone’s home? Ridiculous. We need to be told exactly what the developers and town are planning to do.

  7. David J. Loffredo

    I thought it was actually pretty good – and I’ve been a Saugatuck resident for the past 17 years (and a Westporter for more than 30 if I need to futher credentialize myself).

    This isn’t about the Bridge – that has its own thread thru the process. It’s too narrow by the way, so preserve it but at least fix that so people stop hitting it.

    It’s also not about dredging the river. Again, a different issue for a different forum.

    What it is about is about evolving Saugatuck in a way that I hope preserves its character while injecting some more vitality. Much has been done but there’s still much to do.

    When you exit I-95 you’re greeted by an aggressive homeless guy and a parking lot filled with commercial highway equipment. It’s disgusting. And if you go straight and cut across Charles St – all you see if a line of abandoned (Jasmines, the Bank) or decaying (whatever that ugly building with the hieroglyphics is) structures. Except for the restored Luciano Park – which as the Commissioner of Westport Softball back in the early 2000’s I helped get resurrected – the rest of the area needs some help.

    That being said – the best restaurants in Westport are down there, it’s walkable when not congested with standstill traffic, and it is the gateway to Westport – although highly underutilized. In fact we never even finished painting the train platform rails / lights / etc – to make it all hang together.

    Give this process a chance. I know we all know better than “consultants”, but maybe we don’t….

    • David – I don’t question your “Westport Credentials” (I have come to accept in my own mind that, if you currently live here, or used to live here and still hold Westport dear, you can claim to be a Westporter), but your statement “the best restaurants in Westport are down there” is certainly subject to some debate!

    • The Transit Oriented Development Master Plan is not about preserving or conserving the character of Saugatuck. It’s really about encouraging more residential development in a small area next to a transit hub.

      The general idea behind the TOD program, near as I can work out, is to prevent sprawl in underdeveloped towns by encouraging the establishment of a dense, urban community next to mass transit.

      I know what you’re thinking: “O.K., but Westport is already 98.7% built out – so what the heck are we doing taking all this taxpayer money for a study when the horse is already out of the barn and over the horizon?”

      Good question. Why do people climb Mount Everest?

      The question I’d actually love to see an answer to is this: why actively encourage more density and intensification of use in an area of town that ALREADY suffers from congestion? After all, when you boil it down to its elemental truth, this is the place where commuters go to get the train – for a NYC commute that keeps getting longer. Shouldn’t making their lives a little better be more of a priority than narrowing the roads to make the sidewalks bigger?

      If we had really wanted conserve and enhance the character of Saugatuck we would have simply made it a Village District. And that could have been done quickly – and mostly in house – for a pittance.

    • Werner Liepolt

      The map the TOD includes not only the Bridge and the river but many other sites of historical significance and places that are of legendary importance to residents of Saugatuck. To see these aspects ignored and diminished on a survey suggests the TOD subcommittee is skewing the information.

  8. Sharon Horowitz

    Morley– I agree with you and ask myself the same question. The traffic congestion in this town has taken away from the quality of our lives, specifically in the Saugatuck area. Every day this week, around 8;30/9am- it has taken me close to 45 minutes to drive down Green Farms road to the train station. And the same for coming home around 6pm. This is an untenable commute for such a short distance. What is happening in this town– the traffic congestion (and subsequent driver frustration) seems to be increasing every day.

  9. The future of Saugatuck is in the hands of those who constructed the survey.

  10. Werner Liepolt

    I heard from one member of the Saugatuck TOD committee who says, in part,”Thanks very much for your comments. I hadn’t yet seen the survey and just went through it this evening. Like you, I’m stunned that there’s no explicit reference to historic preservation. Shocked, really, at such a glaring omission. I’ve emailed the committee co-chairs about this. Thanks so much for your vigilance!”

  11. Cathy Walsh, Chair P&Z Commission

    Werner,
    The committee has been discussing and we all agree upon the need for historical preservation. It is a priority of the steering committee.
    In our Tuesday meeting, we discussed the preservation over site by Barton and it will be corrected. As part of the study, Barton has engaged a well known firm, PAL, to do an updated historical inventory.

    The public is welcome to attend all meetings. Numerous residents of Saugatuck are attending the meetings and are participating in the process. Join us.

  12. Not one of the picture choices in the survey looks anything like Westport. It’s all vanilla pudding/could-be-anywhere garbage developers seem to prefer. The best shot, though, is the median strip they try to pass off as “civic” space, to ensure no one votes for parks. Because no one profits from parks except the people who use them.

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