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Waterford wonders if it needs a 'Main Street'

By COLIN A. YOUNG Day Staff Writer

Publication: The Day

Published December 30. 2013 4:00AM
Town assembles team to develop master plan for Jordan Village area

Waterford - A 2009 National Public Radio project found that there are more than 10,466 Main Streets in the country.

But not only does this town not have a Main Street, but some town officials feel it is lacking a truly main street, one that can help define a community's identity.

Waterford is characterized by several villages, each with its own unique identity, and "there is no single 'main street' that defines Waterford and provides a community focal point for residents to gather and associate themselves under a single unifying identity," according to a recent town document that sought bids to develop a master plan.

But now with grant funding from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation's Vibrant Communities Initiative, the town has assembled a team to develop a master plan for Jordan Village and the surrounding area to see if it would be feasible to cultivate a "Main Street" feel there.

The team - made up of a New York City planning firm, a Wisconsin economic consultant, a Connecticut-based historic architect and a New York landscape architecture firm - will begin its work in early January, according to town Planning Director Dennis Goderre.

Jordan Village was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1990 and is the oldest settlement in Waterford. Sixty structures make up the historic village and, along with the adjacent Civic Triangle, it has been home to town government since about 1848 when town meetings were held in the basement of the Baptist church.

"Of the several identifiable sections of Waterford ... Jordan Village is the most intact and least impacted by sprawl and highway expansion," according to the town's request for qualifications (RFQ) to conduct the study. "It is important to the town to maintain its identity, preserve its integrity, and create a cohesive pedestrian-oriented walkable 'town center' that supports village scale economic development."

In addition to reviewing the village's historic assets, economic trends, zoning, historic resources and possible reuse of buildings, the team is also charged with developing a plan for the streetscape of Rope Ferry Road, which links Jordan Village and bustling Route 1.

"The master plan will include the creation of a conceptual streetscape plan along Rope Ferry Road extending from the western boundary of the village to its intersection with Route 1 at Veteran's Memorial Park, thus visually enhancing the link between the Civic Triangle and Jordan Village," Goderre wrote in the RFQ. "The streetscape is an important element and links the village's historic resources with the adjacent triangle's center of government and educational services."

Plans for the streetscape could include additional signs, decorative lighting, parklets and benches, according to bid documents.

Public input will be essential to the plan's development, Goderre said, and will include a multi-day workshop for residents to get involved.

"We will invite the public to participate in a hands-on process of planning and design associated with the streetscape and village plan," Goderre said in an email. "This will be in addition to three public forums during which the design team will present initial findings, recommendations and receive feedback to help guide the plan development process."

c.young@theday.com

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