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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Merchants to Unveil Plan for Downtown

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The Downtown Merchants Association is planning to unveil a $15 million plan to upgrade Westport’s downtown area, including an increase in parking through a deck on the Elm Street lot.waldman11160401260.jpg
David Waldman, president of the downtown merchants group, is seen in front of the one-time Westport Bank & Trust Co. building after announcing he had purchased it in November 2004. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com file photo

David Waldman, association president, said the group will unveil its plan on Dec. 13, and it includes 150 new parking spaces and changes to Parker-Harding Plaza that includes beautification and better access to the Saugatuck River.

There would additionally be new sidewalks and improvements to the streetscape, he said.

The lack of parking was one of the main reasons that drove the merchants to craft the plan, Waldman said.

“There was never a cohesive design to tie everything together,” he said. “There’s no place to sit on a bench. It’s hard to get from Main Street to Parker-Harding Plaza.”

The plan is based on what merchants and shoppers want, he said.

Additionally, it is based on a preliminary plan presented by the merchants several years ago, he said.

The new plan does not include some of the items from that plan, including new retail space constructed along the Elm Street parking lot, he said.

The merchants would ask town officials to foot the bill for the project, Waldman said, but it would be paid back through the metering of parking spaces in some of the lots.

“The income would allow us to pay back the debt service, so it would be no cost to the taxpayers,” he said.

First Selectman Gordon Joseloff said he would be happy to review the plan, which was part of the 2001 Downtown Plan.

“It was a question of how we do it,” he said of implementing the downtown plan. “We need to work together and make sure there is consensus.”

The merchants in the past have been accommodating to take up some of the town’s functions for the downtown area, including collecting trash, he said.

Joseloff, who has a minority interest in owning the former Fine Arts property, said the plans are mainly for Parker-Harding Plaza and the Baldwin lot.

The plans, therefore, are away from the property in which he has a personal interest.


Posted 11/29/06 at 11:03 PM  Permalink


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