P9 - Coordinate with and Integrate the Library Transformation Project

The reimagined Great Hall

The reimagined Great Hall

The major goal of the Transformation Project is to renovate the library from a static structure into a dynamic environment that will be more responsive to the ever-changing needs of Westport residents. Construction is set to commence in August 2017 with completion of the project slated for fall 2019. 

As this project will enhance Downtown connectivity, activities, and the enjoyment of the river, this Plan supports the concept. The project honors one of the main values expressed by residents during the public outreach process, which was to provide for more activities for residents, especially children and teenagers. On August 4, 2016, DPIC voted to fully support the renovation project and to do so in front of the Board of Selectman's September meeting. As the library renovation moves forward, DPIC will form working groups to discuss related initiatives such as Library Lane, the placement of a playground, and Jesup Green. 

P2 - Improve and Complete Sidewalk Network

The Downtown Master Plan recommends creating a complete sidewalk network by improving existing sidewalks where they are inadequate or in need of repair,  and constructing sidewalks where they do not exist.  

  • Westport took a step closer to linking the north and south sides of town via sidewalks with September 6th's RTM approval by 27 to 1 of a $147,000 appropriation. Of the amount, $44,500 would go for designs including 400 feet of five-foot wide sidewalks along Riverside Avenue, $48,500 for designs of Main Street sidewalks to Weston Road, and $54,000 for 5,100 feet of Compo Road sidewalk improvements and 1,800 feet of new sidewalk.

     

  • The application and designs were approved for Riverside Avenue road reconstruction and sidewalks; Main Street sidewalks from Coffee An' to Daybreak Nursery; and for sidewalks on Compo Road South from Post Road to Bridge Street. 

  • In the Downtown Planning and Implementation Committee's April 2016 meeting, the members agreed to recommend that the public works department seek funding to repair and complete the sidewalk network around Veteran's Green (in front of Town Hall). The proposal will be presented to the RTM and Board of Finance for approval at their June meetings.

  • In March of 2016, upon the recommendation of the DPIC, the Board of Finance and the RTM approved the appropriation of $200,000 to build sidewalks along Imperial Avenue and repair those on upper Main Street.

P1-Implement Planned Main Street Streetscape Improvements

The Town implemented new streetscape improvements on Main Street between Post Road and Elm Street.  The work, which was completed in December 2015, involved the upgrade of existing sidewalks, new sidewalks to fill in gaps, granite curbing, tree grates, energy efficient lights, and historic-looking lampposts. Specifically, new brick sidewalks were added in front and behind Main Street's shops.  The funding for this project came from a grant, as well as the local merchants, whose participation enabled the project to expand past its original scope.   As a result, both the sidewalks on Main Street and Parker Harding have been upgraded with the new brick treatment.  

 

P8- Create a Westport Arts & Cultural Heritage Trail

Example of a wayfinding kiosk

In April 2016, DPIC took the lead on submitting a grant application for $20,000 from the Connecticut Office of the Arts to create the technology and build a prototype "beacon" for the "Westport WanderNet".  The Westport WanderNet project concept emerged from a collaboration of many of the cultural organizations in Downtown Westport.   The WanderNet is envisioned as a network of 10+ kiosks or beacons that will function as interactive public art. They will feature wayfinding, a current events guide, interpretation of historical events, and will help to build a sense of place Downtown, and eventually other highly visible Westport locations.  

Unfortunately, DPIC did not win the grant, but is seeking funding from private sources to start the project.  

P4- Support Improvements to Toquet Hall

Toquet Hall is an important destination for teens in Downtown, where they can initiate and participate in social, cultural, recreational, and educational activities.  The current space and location limits Toquet Hall's activities and hours.  Therefore, a plan to renovate and improve the existing space is being developed.  The proposal includes expanding the snack bar's offerings, making soundproofing and acoustical improvements, and enhancing the signage.  Funds for the renovations will be raised through gofundme, a crowdfunding website.  www.gofundme.com/toquethall, as well as planned fundraisers. The first step in the renovation will be the addition of a sign on the Post Road side of the building in order to increase awareness of the space. 

P5 - Restore and Revitalize Elm Street

The Master Plan points out that Elm Street, in its current configuration, is a gap in Downtown. The sidewalks are not continuous and the road is lined with driveways and parking lots,  

  • On September 15, 2016, the P&Z heard comments on the Elm Street swap, supported by DPIC, but closed the hearing to vote later on the matter.
  • The DPIC voted in favor of a resolution to support David Adam Realty's submission before P&Z related to the potential swap of land on Elm Street. Details on the proposed arrangement are available at www.36elmswap.com
  • The town's design for Elm Street is almost complete, is generally similar to Main Street's streescape, and is in sync with the land swap proposed by David Adam Realty.  The design incluides a reconfigured instersection of Main and Elm. 
  • In the winter of 2016, funds for the redesign of Elm Street were approved by the RTM and Board of Finance.  This would have included improving the sidewalk network and burying the power lines.  However, there is currently a proposal from David Waldman, developer of Bedford Square, to swap a parcel of land with the town.  As a result, the design of Elm Street is on hold until this proposal has been voted on by the Planning & Zoning Commission.