With 2 major planning projects underway — for downtown and the beach — town officials are urging Westporters to make their wishes known.
Sure, you can click on the “Comments” section of “06880.” But nothing beats showing up in public, and opening your mouth.
The Downtown Steering Committee holds a “charrette” this weekend (September 20-21) at Town Hall. Satellite events are set for other downtown locations too.
Charrettes are collaborative work sessions in which design professionals, residents, merchants, municipal experts and others discuss and draft solutions to address specific opportunities and challenges.
This weekend’s charrettes follow a kickoff event on Monday. A couple dozen people heard about, and saw visuals of:
- A park-like walkway along Parker Harding Plaza, with a footbridge leading to the former Save the Children property on Wilton Road.
- A new 2-story retail shopping center between the relocated Kemper-Gunn House on Elm Street, and Brooks Corner — effectively hiding the Baldwin parking lot.
- A redesign that cuts Jesup Green in half. All parking would face Matsu Sushi; half of the current lot becomes an expanded green from the river to the police lot (with gazebo and paths). At the top of the green is a new “community arts space.”
- An area in front of the current Y will force Church Lane traffic heading to Main Street to turn onto the Post Road first.
- New buildings on the Imperial Avenue upper parking lot.
- Possible relocation of the police department, and construction of — yes — a new retail shopping complex.
The charrette begins this Saturday at 8:30 a.m., at Town Hall. A “walking tour” of downtown follows at 9 a.m. From 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. back at Town Hall, there are work sessions, panels and discussions. From 3:30-6 p.m., “open studio workstations” allow discussions with experts about specific ideas and plans.
Sunday features more open studio exhibits and workstations (9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.), followed by a closing presentation (1:30-3 p.m.).
JP Vellotti — a longtime Westporter who attended Monday’s kickoff — says, “This is our chance to define how we want our downtown to look, and how we interact with that space.”
The charrette will also include a special aerial video of downtown, produced by Staples freshman Rick Eason. For more information on the charrette, click on www.downtownwestportct.com.
Then, on Monday, September 29 (7:30 p.m., Town Hall auditorium), the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee presents its recommended draft master plan to the Parks and Recreation Commission. Public comment is invited.
The Commission will make formal recommendations to the committee at a future public meeting. “It is important that the commissioners have sufficient time to digest the recommendations of the committee and the public input,” says Parks & Rec Commission chair Charlie Haberstroh.
The full draft of the master plan is available at www.compobeach2.com.
Both downtown and the beach are important, and vital, parts of Westport. The changes to one (or both) may be large (or small).
How close they come to what you want may depend on how clearly (and strongly) you (and your neighbors) express yourselves.