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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Town Plan Session Focuses on Infrastructure Issues

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Glenn Chalder, planning consultant, (r) speaks with a small group during tonight’s final workshop on the update to the Town Plan of Conservation and Development. Planning and Zoning Director Laurence Bradley (l) looks on. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
By Jennifer Connic

Groups huddled over maps and diagrams in Bedford Middle School this evening, but it wasn’t students doing their homework.

It was groups of residents examining infrastructure issues during the last of the public sessions that will be used to build the update to the Westport Town Plan of Conservation and Development.

Each group was handed one of four topics that were community facilities, utilities, transportation and how to better implement the town plan.

Conversations included sidewalks connecting community facilities downtown, providing a shuttle bus from Weston to the train station, drainage into Long Island Sound and improving the town’s power lines so there are less outages.

Once the groups finished discussing the issues in their small groups, they reported back to the larger group.

In reporting on community facilities, Donald Bergmann, reporting for his group, said his group felt mainly positive about community facilities such as the parks, schools, beaches, the Levitt Pavilion and the arts facilities.

There also is a need for more space at Town Hall, he said, and an increase in parking at the railroad stations.

George Franciscovich, reporting for his group, said his group focused on the downtown area, but the place they all liked best was Compo Beach.

“The water—no matter where it was—was very important to us,” he said. “There needs to be access to it.”

It’s also important that everyone feels safe in Westport, he said.

Lisa Shufro, also reporting for her group, said the roads need to be maintained better, especially the shoulders for the walkers and bikers.

While the Westport Weston Family Y may not stay downtown, she said, there needs to be a community recreation facility downtown.

Michael Callise, who reported for his group on transportation, said there needs to be a better utilization of how the parking downtown is used.

In the future, town officials also need to deal with the noise and smog issues along I-95, he said.

Additionally, he said, there need to be improvements to railroad parking.

“We also believe there does not need to be any change to our transportation infrastructure,” he said. “We should maintain them at current levels.”

Allen Bomes, who represented the group on implementing the town plan, said it needs to be kept simple with measured goals.

The goals need to be communicated to the public, he said, and they also need to be included in the town’s capital forecast.

Glenn Chalder, head of the Avon, Conn.-based Planimetrics consultant firm hired to help the Planning and Zoning Commission complete the town plan, said he is now working on a draft plan, which should be completed by late March.

In order to finish the draft, he said, they are working with the commission on strategic issues and background. Additionally, he said, there will be a phone survery in March.

“We’re probably about 60-75 days away from a draft plan,” he said. “Once the commission gets it they’ll want to review and refine it.”

The earliest the public will have a chance to review the plan during a meeting would be in May, he said.

Tonight’s session was videotaped and will air on the town’s cable access channel—which is cable channel 79—at a future date.

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Posted 01/30/07 at 02:02 AM  Permalink



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