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How can Exit 90 in Mystic be made more welcoming?

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Stonington — How can the town make the area around Exit 90 of Interstate 95 in Mystic more welcoming?

To answer that question, the Economic Development Commission is asking residents to provide input through an online survey at mystic.paperform.co.

The Exit 90 area, long nicknamed the "Golden Triangle," includes Route 27 and Coogan Boulevard, and is how most tourists enter the town. In announcing the survey, the EDC said it believes that area "presents a significant opportunity for redevelopment over the next 25 years."

"While the area is already largely built out, many of the buildings are aging and are ripe for redevelopment. We should redevelop areas that have already been built, rather than destroying existing green spaces," it stated in the survey announcement.

The EDC is recommending that the "community articulate a bold vision that sets the development agenda for the next 25 years, that creates a go-to destination for visitors and residents and provides a road map for development that has been endorsed by Stonington residents. Agreeing on a vision increases the chance of Stonington fulfilling it, rather than redevelopment happening on an ad-hoc basis with no strategic plan in place."

EDC Chairman David Hammond said one possible vision is to connect the Mystic River and nearby nature trails with the Exit 90 area and make them more accessible to the public.

"Visitors should have an 'Ahh, we are here' moment that makes them feel welcomed and pleased to arrive at this beautiful, relaxing New England town," he said in the announcement of the survey. "It should not look like a strip mall or 'anywhere' USA. Instead, the exit should be attractive, reflect our New England quaintness and have a feeling that presents a slower and more relaxed way of life. We want to encourage visitors to come to Mystic while also minimizing the impact on its residents."

The EDC said the Mystic River and nearby nature trails could be incorporated into the vision, as they are not currently integrated with the existing roads and properties near the exit.

The EDC said its long-term vision is to develop Exit 90 so that it includes residential use and "is an attractive place to live, work and play."

"If people could live in this area, most services would be (within) walking distance, as well as access to bike paths, walking trails, the Mystic River, and downtown Mystic," the commission stated. It added Exit 90 should complement downtown Mystic, not compete with it.

The EDC also stressed that walking and biking "are an integral part of the vision."

j.wojtas@theday.com

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