Residents and business owners talk about Windsor's future development
By Calla Vassilopoulos - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Fri., Jun. 14, 2013
Windsor Center has been the talk of the town for the last year, literally speaking. Business owners, residents and town officials gathered for their last workshop at Windsor Town Hall on June 13, to finish brainstorming development to the town center.
The workshop was the last of three gatherings dedicated to finding out what people with ties to Windsor have to say about its future. The meeting was led by Town Planner Eric Barz and Steve Cecil from The Cecil Group planning and urban design team.
Tim White, a resident who lives close to the center, has attended every workshop to track the progress. “I live here, so I might as well have a say in what happens around here,” said White. “I'd like to see the center actually grow.”
White said previous workshops allowed the residents and business owners to contribute a lot of input. He describes the last meeting when everyone was given pamphlets and asked things like where they would want parking, what businesses they are interested to see and where, and if housing was built, where would it fit best.
The Cecil Group concluded from the two previous workshops, in November and January, along with the survey, that Windsor wants balance in the center. Residents expressed a desire to attract visitors, but to also have a fully-functioning center that meets their needs.
Of those who completed the survey, residents said their top two entertainment choices were movies and live music; they want to see more retail and restaurants, and the current primary use of the center is the post office and library.
“I think we need some shops in town that people want to come, and on their lunch break can buy a gift for a co-worker or something,” said Tricia Jeffery, a town center resident. She would also like to see the movie theater up and running again.
All things considered, The Cecil Group has talked about making complete streets - meaning they flow together in conjunction with the town. In other words, make it easier to get around and access the facilities that residents and visitors want to use.
They have also brainstormed about making space functional and creating more parking in the right areas. An example is putting a deck on the parking lot behind the town hall to allow easy access to the center, specifically in the evenings when town officials will not be using the space.
Business owner Dr. Mohan Sachdev is hoping the plan includes changes to the area of Poquonock Avenue near the center. As Cecil suggested, Sachdev believes connecting the streets, enhancing parking, putting lights and revitalizing the downtown will make a big difference and be good for business. Sachdev owns and practices at the Kennedy Road Veterinary Hospital in town and owns the plaza with the old movie theater.
The Transit Oriented Development (TOD) program is being funded by a grant from the state, which is how the town was able to hire The Cecil Group. TOD is involved with the development of Windsor Center as part of the changes to the transit system behind Town Hall. Currently, the train operates as an inter-city connector, but in the next few years the state plans to change the current system. The improved system is designed to increase service during typical commuting hours and to make it affordable for commuters.
Eventually, the town plans to encourage businesses such as those on Day Hill Road to provide shuttles to and from the train station, according to Town Manager Peter Souza. The plan is scheduled to be finalized in July.
To track the progress of the plan, visit http://windsortod.wordpress.com.