City Planning and Zoning Department Director William Warner gave the Planning and Zoning Commission an update on the riverfront committee’s progress at the zoning board’s regular meeting Wednesday . The City hired Projects for Public Spaces a New York-based,nonprofit to consult on the redevelopment. The Office of Planning, Conservation and Development has made a Facebook page seeking comments from the public. Because not all citizens have facebook, Warner stated he set up a web page, linked to the planning department’s main website, with updates on the Riverfront Redevelopment Commission. Commissioner Molly Salafia (R) asked if a strategic plan with a timeline will be done by the consulting firm, rather than just conceptual philosophy and precedent case studies, and Warner stated that yes the firm will make specific plans that pertain and can be used by the City as a launch point. He stressed that ultimately, the Planning and Zoning Commission has final say of what new zoning is adopted. Warner said he would like to see the existing rail line used as a tourist trolley. Commissioner Beth Emery (D) asked if bike paths would be apart of the plan of development. Warner stated that he still has the notes from thirteen years ago from the public sessions held then by the then riverfront development consultants and that those previous concepts developed in committee had not been forgotten. Warner stated to his knowledge, the South Cove area would need to be dredged for a public boat launch, but that a public park area was going to the be vital point in driving development. Warner elaborated that the City needed to provide, plan for, and implement an overhaul of infrastructure to attract private development, and that this infrastructure was the critical first step.
The development of the riverfront - with land both owned by the City, State, and private entities in play depends on the decommission of the current sewage plan on River Road and Middletown joining Mattabassett District—the acceptance is still pending in Cromwell, Berlin and New Britain to allow Middletown in. Middletown is scheduled to pay $13 million to the surrounding towns to join the district.
Highway Routes 17 and 9. are a disaster, ranking number 1 as the most dangerous highways in the state. Department of Transportation will hold a public meeting at Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce’s Central Business Bureau Committee on Wednesday at 8 a.m. at the Chamber’s headquarters, 393 Main St. Rep. Joseph Serra, a 25 year veteran legislator who represents Middletown, is the chair of the Highways committee. Warner stated at the PZ meeting ,when asked by Commissioner Nick Fazzino (R) if the DOT had any plans to deal with the traffic lights on this stretch of highway, that the state has only mentioned it will discuss the RT 17 and RT 9 on ramp.