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Letter: Backs funding for downtown study

Published 10:53 am, Friday, July 26, 2013
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Although many Westporters are taking summer time off, we need to pay attention to what's been happening in planning for the future.

In a welcome and somewhat surprising turn of events, the Planning and Zoning Commission last month endorsed a motion to support the efforts of the Downtown 2020 Committee. The Coalition for Westport applauds the result.

The P&Z's support is welcomed because the Downtown 2020 Committee is doing exactly what it was mandated to do. Its mission, outlined in its charter from the first selectman, is to work towards a more vital, livable and pedestrian-friendly downtown and environs that offers diverse entertainment, dining, and recreational, residential and business opportunities.

By its action, the P&Z has not only shown its support for the administration but also for its own 2007 Plan of Conservation and Development, which stresses the need for a comprehensive plan for the entire downtown.

The majority members of the P&Z were initially skeptical. They expressed dissatisfaction with 2020's request for proposals from consultants and encouraged the committee to withdraw its request for Board of Finance support. Ultimately, they were persuaded that supporting the 2020 process and encouraging other elected bodies, officials and offices to do so as well was the right thing to do, despite the urging of Save Westport Now to the contrary.

The 2020 Committee has identified three design firms and has requested that they present their proposals to the public during July. The goal is to retain a firm to design a comprehensive plan for the entire downtown area, including several major capital projects. To date, the committee has received $65,000 in private funding. It plans to request additional funding from the Board of Finance to support the process.

The Coalition for Westport endorses the 2020 Committee goals. We believe that a bipartisan effort of both Republicans and Democrats working together can generate visionary plans and creative ideas for downtown Westport. This merits the support of all residents, and we urge the Board of Finance to support the Downtown 2020 Committee when it requests supplemental financing sometime in the future.

Jo Ann Davidson

Coalition for Westport

Westport