Tooker: Parker Harding Plans Are On Hold

The public has spoken.

The politicians have listened.

The result: Plans for the Parker Harding Plaza parking lot are on hold.

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker said today that “in coordination with the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee, discussion and reviews scheduled for town boards, committees and commissions in the upcoming weeks regarding the current proposal for the reconfiguration of the Parker Harding Plaza Parking Lot will be postponed.”

Discussion on eliminating the Parker Harding Plaza cut-through lane — shown in the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee screenshot above — will be postponed. 

She noted, “The process for this project has been public since its inception. However, recent feedback on the current upgrade and design option for Parker Harding Plaza has demonstrated that proposing another design option for the town-owned parking lot is supported and warrants further consideration.”

The DPIC and consultants will propose another option that “incorporates and considers additional community comments.”

Another evening public “charrette” will be scheduled. “Continued public participation is encouraged during each of the public meetings where any proposal will be presented,” Tooker said.

 DPIC Chair Randy Herbertson added, “After several years of monthly public meetings and thorough documentation on the DPIC website, multiple online surveys, and 2 public charettes, the DPIC continues to maintain an open dialogue and take into account feedback on the multi-year, multi-project Downtown Plan.

“It is the desire and intention of DPIC to have the support of and prioritize input from downtown businesses, merchants, and residents, as well as the entire Westport community. The Downtown Master Plan is a strategy for addressing the many issues residents and experts have identified as needing to be improved while maintaining and enhancing Westport’s unique and beautiful waterfront. Upgraded infrastructure projects such as this will ultimately prove beneficial for all.”

Parker Harding Plaza (Drone photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

Tooker concluded, “Any proposal that addresses pedestrian and vehicular safety, provides resiliency for the future, and upgrades infrastructure to town property is the ultimate goal for any town-sponsored project of this magnitude.

“I am confident that going forward, any proposed reconfiguration will prove to be in keeping with the spirit and mission of the town and the DPIC as we strive to make Westport a premiere destination for residents, businesses and visitors.”

(“06880” reports regularly on downtown developments. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

29 responses to “Tooker: Parker Harding Plans Are On Hold

  1. John D McCarthy

    I applaud the First Selectwoman’s decision and thank her for listening to the constructive comments that have been made during the process. I thank the DPIC for the work that they have done so far and look forward to participating in the ongoing process. I know many residents and downtown merchants who are looking forward to contributing to the future plans for Parker Harding. “Repair and Maintain” should be the guiding principle of future plans for PH.

    Thanks to everyone that spoke up or signed a petition.

    • Jamie Walsh

      Well said John. I do hope that DPIC will listen to the feedback of the residents and merchants and the only thing that needs to happen is repair and enhance the parking lot and access road to include the room for handicapped parking. Additionally, a pier might be an enhancement and would serve to attract people to the waterfront. Thank you to Jen Tooker and Andrea Moore for listening to the feedback and thanks to RTM members Sal Liccione and Nancy Kail who represented D9. Great appreciation to all the residents who expressed their over support for a reconsideration of the Parker Harding lot and access road.

  2. Andrew Colabella

    Thats democracy in action 👏🏼

  3. Chris Vatis

    In the meantime can we improve and maintain
    the existing Parker Harding river walkway
    It’s an embarrassment (as is the lack of upkeep at
    BuryingHill Beach) provide new and more
    comfortable seating and tables, why do the powers
    that be even let these
    places fall into such disrepair?
    re pave or brick the current walkway, replace the
    river wire barrier with something safer and eye pleasing
    as well as improve the current unkempt landscaping?
    Perhaps this is all we may need along the River- let’s
    all take notice how much that improved walkway is even
    used on a daily basis before we take on a big expenditure
    and disrupt everything.
    Also we already have a walkable bridge in town.
    It seems
    ludicrous to expect shoppers and employees
    to walk all the way from the Imperial lot into town
    while those across the river cannot walk a short distance
    to and over the current downtown bridge??

  4. Katherine Bruan

    Thank you RTM District 9 rep Sal Liccione for bringing this to everyone’s attention and spearheading the movement to keep this from happening.

    • John D McCarthy

      Thanks Sal!!

      • Janine Scotti

        I will add my Thanks to Sal too. He works so hard to do what is right for our community. Also I am hopeful that we can also work together for a solution to the Long Lots Garden issue.
        Let’s be consistent with our town values across the board.

  5. India van Voorhees

    I appreciate that First Selectwoman Tooker has finally addressed the weeks of verbal and written opposition to the Parker Harding Plan from residents and merchants alike. Let’s move forward from here.

    I would like to state an opinion, though, that perhaps one of the issues is that some are looking to “make Westport a premier destination for residents, businesses and visitors” while others – like myself – are looking to keep Westport the vibrant but understated, beloved, family-friendly town it always has been.

  6. Ciara Webster

    Yes ! Thank you to Sal Liccione (rtm district9 ) whose tireless work on bringing this to residents and businesses attention, was instrumental in educating the general public and merchants about the consequences. Countless emails ignored and cast aside, most would have given up but Sal soldiered on and for that we should all be incredibly thankful. Sal knew it was disastrous.
    Thank you to all the residents and merchants who then got involved in a huge way giving up their valuable time to attend meetings at short notice and at inconvenient times of the morning, and to Doug for creating the initial online petition and John McCarthy for the rtm petition.
    We look forward to being involved in the next phase of this project and as John pointed out maintenance and repair.
    Parked Harding is not perfect but together we can make it more beautiful whilst maintaining all parking and the thru road.

  7. Morley Boyd

    It’s unfortunate that it took this much broken china to get the administration to the ease off – although it kinda sounds from his reported comments like the chair of DPIC isn’t quite feeling it. Yet. At any rate, a big thank you to RTM D9, Sal Liccione for flagging this issue – and for staying on it.

    • John F. Suggs

      Thanks Sal! I, and so many other grateful residents in downtown’s District 9, will remember you and your superb leadership come November at the ballot box – as well as those other “so called Representatives” of our District who cowardly refused to even take a position and refused to lead!

      And thanks, also, to you First Selectwoman Tooker for finally listening to us. Maybe next time you could get there just a little bit faster? Broken china indeed. That said, hopefully you will now devote even half the energy you expended on this $6 million vanity project to help the Westport Playhouse keep their doors open. That is where we need you First Selectwoman. Save the Playhouse Theater!

  8. Eric Buchroeder

    What Tooker so long?

  9. donbergmann

    The idea embodied in the Downtown Plan and then I believe supported by so many, was to enhance the riverfront at Parker Harding to make if a delightful spot. The Plan also recommended a pedestrian bridge across the Saugatuck. Now, the merchants and, I will assume to be fair, many citizens have dramatically altered this effort and First Selectwoman Tooker appears to have gone along with these comments from the merchants and a number of residents. The Chair of the DPIC, Randy Herbertson, and, I believe, most on the DPIC continue to support this river enhancement vision. That vision will ALWAYS include a through route from Main Street to the Post Rd. and will, in my view, adequately address parking. I am disappointed that a petition and one public meeting as part of the efforts of Nancy Kail and Sal Liccione to interact with their RTM District may serve to undo the efforts of the DPIC and Randy, as well as many citizens and elected officials. Those efforts have been long ongoing, involved extensive work to engage with the Town, including of course the First Selectwoman, and were still subject to final review and approvals or rejections by Town bodies. During the campaign for First Selectperson, both Jen Tooker and Jonathan Steinberg, supported the concepts for Parker Harding in the Downtown Plan, with actually many additional thoughts to support a river enhancement vision that welcomes people to our Downtown. I truly do not understand why this reversal may have come about so quickly. The rapidity is a big mistake and, more importantly, the final outcomes for Downtown, Parker Harding, Jessup Green and the Imperial Avenue Lot is, in my view, a bigger mistake.
    Don Bergmann

    • Morley Boyd

      Don, now that the shoe is on the other foot, I’m getting the impression that you don’t love the fit.

      Here’s what I suggest: ask your friends on DPIC why they tossed out the vetted and approved plan you supported and quietly replaced it with something much different – something that is utterly divorced from the reality of present day Westport traffic and parking. If you ever get an answer, please let me know.

    • Ciara Webster

      the plan is deader than Kelsey’s nuts( Nixon)
      Why you find this sooooo hard to accept as someone who doesn’t even live close to Parker Harding is incredible.
      This plan was unacceptable.
      ( and we have not even got to the special services district yet)
      There’s another ruse that will be cut down even more vehemently than the parking and thru road catastrophe.
      Nobody including the board of finance last I checked a couple of months ago were privy to that mafioso style way of financing maintenance etc… but it will not fly…
      It is also going to be deader than Kelsey’s nuts.
      Residents, merchants, merchants who are residents are taking the bull by the horns !
      We are not going to be bullied by people like you who simply have their head buried in the sand.
      For that we have injunctions and law suits which are fast becoming a faite a compli
      To suggest parking is adequate is naive and ridiculous. Of course it suits your rhetoric.
      To suggest a majority in town fully educated on the facts wants this plan is just plain dillusional.
      To suggest Sal created this problem for DPIC just shows how totally out of touch you are imho
      Sal has been asking, begging DPIC to sit down for over a year !
      How do I know… here’s how I know. Sal is my D9 rep and I have been complaining about the repercussions of this for a year… I’ve sent official emails to Sal, DPIC, down town association… all foia ble.
      So do not state this is sudden or rapid, or out of the blue !
      It IS NOT ! And you are clueless. It’s all about grace lack of transparency
      We are ready to hire our own traffic “experts” our own consultants, and flood consultants to poo poo any and every assertion that what the old plan represents is anything but utter garbage…
      Of course this will all be part of a hugely publicized, media followed and I’m sure hugely costly( not worried) law suit we will bring if the majority is ignored.. after all democracy is everything.
      maintenance and repair.
      That’s all that is possible down there.
      And same goes for Jesup.
      And the special services district.

  10. Jamie Walsh

    Don, I believe you are out of touch with this issue and for the most part I always see you walking your dog down by Compo and never downtown. You live down by the beach and are not directly impacted by this proposal. Additionally, you are not a downtown merchant whose business relies on adequate parking and town residents in D9 who travel the Parker Harding access road many times a day so you don’t feel the consequences on a daily basis by this “lack of common sense” proposal by DPIC.

  11. Michelle Mechanic

    Sal Liccione deserves a massive round of applause for so vigorously representing D9! This is a magnificent example of community bipartisan leadership.

  12. Ciara Webster

    Anyone who would be interested in the “mafioso” style special services district documentation. I have a link and I have a hard copy..( just in case the link ever disappears)
    It’s truly comical to read what they were suggesting and who would hold the decision making power over so much money.
    My email

  13. John D McCarthy

    Looking at the agenda for tonight’s Flood and Erosion Control, I note that the 1st agenda item is still the Parker Harding application from the town. Probably an oversite. But until the agenda is revised, I plan on attending the virtual meeting tonight (which is in the middle of the Yankee game.)

    • John D McCarthy

      So, was the 1st Selectwoman simply lying to the public, or did some people not get the memo?

      In her press release, the 1st Selectwoman said “in coordination with the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee, discussion and reviews scheduled for town boards, committees and commissions in the upcoming weeks regarding the current proposal for the reconfiguration of the Parker Harding Plaza Parking Lot will be postponed.”

      Now, in addition to the tonight’s Flood and Erosion Control Board agenda item on PH, the Tree Board has added this meeting
      “Notice is hereby given that the Westport Tree Board will hold a Special Meeting at Parker Harding Plaza on July 7, 2023 at 10 AM to observe and note the site and conditions of the trees at Parker Harding Plaza.”

      Are we being lied to, or is this just a case of incompetence?

      • Morley Boyd

        It’s as if the administration has two left feet…

      • John McCarthy

        The Flood and Erosion board was told tonight that the town pulled the PH application. But the town said that a new application would be back soon “possibly as early as September.” So much for the promised in-depth review with meaningful public input.