Downtown Pawcatuck-Westerly gateway project to be discussed at Westerly meeting

Westerly — Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Konicki said Monday that there are no plans to unveil the proposed design for a $500,000 gateway entrance on the Pawcatuck River bridge at Monday night's meeting of the Westerly Town Council.

According to the agenda for the council's 6 p.m. meeting at Town Hall, Konicki is slated to make the presentation about the gateway project.

She said Monday morning, that the chamber does not intend to reveal any of the seven designs that it is considering tonight. She said the design that has been ranked the highest "is still fluid and will continue to be modified." She added the project committee is slated to meet Monday to view the latest design modifications, She said the process moving forward will involved input from planners from both towns and a public forum or two.

She said she is planning to make a similar presentation to Stonington officials in the future.

The project was announced last fall, but after the chamber's board of directors was unable to come to a consensus on which of two original designs to choose, it decided to hold a contest to come up with a design. One of the original designs was described as more traditional and the other modern.

The gateway is envisioned as creating a sense of place and arrival and reflecting the history, culture and connection between Westerly and Pawcatuck while becoming a tourist attraction.

Chamber officials have likened the gateway to landmarks such as the Frog Bridge in Willimantic and the pine cone arch on Federal Hill in Providence.

"Seattle has the space needle, St. Louis has the arch, Hollywood has the 'Welcome to Hollywood' sign in the hills, Sydney has the opera house, Venice has the giant hands emerging from the river — these are all major cities with a dramatic architectural landmark. We are a small New England community and desire something noteworthy that is scaled/designed in the context of our charming environment, rich history, culture and growing arts scene," stated the chamber's explanation of the project.



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