NL Council panel supports hiring group for study of Fort Trumbull

New London - The City Council Economic Development Committee voted 4-0 Monday to hire the Yale Urban Design Workshop to study and present a list of options for development on the Fort Trumbull peninsula.

But the committee also voted to exempt a 6.5-acre parcel sought by the Westport-based Stillman Organization for the construction of 80 rental townhouses from the Yale study.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on final passage of the $37,500 study at its April 19 regular meeting.

"This is an opportunity to start a new chapter (in Fort Trumbull)," said Deputy Mayor Adam Sprecace, who drafted the motion.

According to the proposal written by Alan Plattus, the director of Yale Urban Design Workshop, a nonprofit affiliated with the Yale School of Architecture, the seven-month study would take place in three phases.

The first phase would review the previous plans for Fort Trumbull, including the decade-old Municipal Development Plan, as well as any current proposals on the peninsula.

Then the Yale group would develop a list of urban design options before compiling a final report, complete with renderings.

According to the terms of the proposal, the city would make monthly payments to the group, and have the option to end the study following the first two phases.

But members of the committee were concerned that the Yale study would interfere with the Stillman plan to construct townhouses on land formerly occupied by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center and not part of the Kelo eminent domain case.

Sprecace, who is not a member the economic development committee, said he hoped the Stillman Organization and the Yale group will communicate with each other, despite the exemptions.

Mayor Rob Pero, however, said he was "lukewarm," on the Yale proposal put forth by his fellow Republican councilor.

"It could add another layer of review," Pero said.

New London Landmarks director Sandra Chalk spoke in favor of the Yale study, saying it could "re-energize the discussion of Fort Trumbull."

But Chalk also had reservations about the Stillman plan, calling them more appropriate for the suburbs, rather than an urban setting.

Pero said the New London Development Corp. executive committee has scheduled a meeting Thursday to further discuss the Stillman plan.

Pero also informed the committee the NLDC was negotiating a contract with local architect Richard Gipstein to perform design review of the Stillman proposal, which calls for the construction of townhouses employing a Greek Revival style similar to homes on Starr Street.

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