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Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Westport Gets $440K State Grant for Saugatuck Master Plan

UPDATE Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today announced a $440,000 grant to Westport to develop a transit-oriented master plan for the Saugatuck area around the Metro-North Westport station.

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Railroad Place opposite the Metro-North tracks would be among areas included in the study. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The grant was among 20 projects in towns and cities across Connecticut receiving almost $11 million in funding under a competitive grant program that will support transit-oriented development and responsible growth, targeted at boosting economic activity and creating jobs, an announcement said.

The announcement said the Westport funding will be used to develop a detailed master plan of the Saugatuck station area, including an existing conditions analysis, public outreach, district planning, identification of partnerships, and preliminary design.

“The plan is focused on improving the Saugatuck area in a manner that will benefit local residents, new residents, commuters, and businesses,” the announcement said.

The grants come under the state’s Responsible Growth and Transit-Oriented Development Grant Program, which is administered by the Office of Policy and Management (OPM), the governor’s office said.

It said the grants rely on a combination of funding from the Responsible Growth Incentive Fund and the Transit-Oriented Development and Pre-development Fund.

First Selectman Jim Marpe and Dewey Loselle, town operations manager, said they could not be happier.

The application for the grant was submitted on Feb. 4 shortly after the town’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM) approved the submission, Loselle said.

“I’m pleased and delighted that we received the full amount of our grant request, particularly in light of the other budget challenges affecting the state and consequently, the project,” said Marpe.

“This proposed master plan is a critical component that will allow the town to integrate changes and proposed public and private efforts to improve the Saugatuck area,” he added.

State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (D-136) also welcomed the grant.

“Many Westporters worked hard to secure this grant,” he said. “Now we have to assure that these TOD planning funds are applied in a way consistent with Saugatuck’s village character.  I look forward to an engaging dialogue on how we will best serve Saugatuck’s and Westport’s interests.”

According to Loselle, the town will pursue plan development in a manner similar to the completed Downtown Master Plan.

“We’ll be developing a steering committee, a website and citizen outreach,” Loselle said, stressing that the town would go out to bid for an outside consultant to assist in the process.

Marpe described the successful grant proposal as a collaborative effort of town departments, shored up by the town’s experience with the Downtown Master Plan.

Loselle said preliminary estimates call for about $6 million in improvements to be made in the Saugatuck area, improvements designed for residents, businesses and commuters.

Referencing Tuesday night’s RTM meeting at which the legislative body extensively reviewed and approved a $1.5 million renovation of Lot No. 1 at the Saugatuck train station, Loselle said many of the topics brought up at the meeting, including sidewalks, crosswalks and streetscape, can be incorporated into the plan.

“This will all be integrated into the rail study and bus study underway,” Loselle said. “This will fill in all those pieces that are needed.”

In February, RTM committees recommended applying for a $250,000 grant for the project with the proviso that there would be no strings attached to the OPM money.

WestportNow.com Image
A view of Riverside Avenue from the Metro-North Westport station in Saugatuck.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

According to the grant application, the master plan would look at recent development trends in Saugatuck, its residential and business communities, transit issues, parking, commuter buses and train ridership.

Among the items listed in the application’s vision statement are: enhancement of a second town center; complementing the downtown; shaping development around community goals; sidewalk and street improvements for better bicycle and pedestrian access to the train station; and infrastructure improvements.

—James Lomuscio contributed reporting

This story has been updated to incude comments from First Selectman Jim Marpe, Town Operations Manager Dewey Loselle, and state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg

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Posted 06/08/16 at 11:44 AM  Permalink



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One factor that needs to be considered is traffic density.  We have seen an increase in traffic since Saugatuck Center was developed.  We need to be sure that any plans take into account the travel time for residents in the western section of town to go to and from their homes to destinations in the rest of town. 

As we know, Saugatuck already lies in the “overflow” corridor between Exits 18 and 17 (and sometimes Exit 16, too) when there are frequent tie-ups on I-95 during rush hour, accidents, construction, or other (and not infrequent) delays.

Such factors should be considered in any serious plans.

Posted by Judy Starr on June 09, 2016 at 09:16 AM | #