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Results of surveys on downtown's future unveiled July 21

Published 11:37 am, Monday, July 14, 2014
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Results of public surveys about a downtown master plan will be presented at a forum July 21.

The session will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Town Hall auditorium.

This is the next step in the process of preparing a master plan to coordinate future plans downtown, according to First Selectman Jim Marpe. He noted that the town has already held workshops to gather comments on the plan over the last several months.

At the meeting, the RBA Group, the consultant team hired to draft the master plan, will present a summary of the ideas that arose from the "Your Downtown" online survey and workshops, Marpe said. Since the "Your Downtown" online survey launched in June, more than 2,900 residents have shared their thoughts on downtown, which Marpe called a particularly large response.

In addition, approximately 170 people attended the workshops and spent several hours providing input on a variety of potential concepts for downtown.

After RBA's presentation, the Westport Downtown Merchants Association and the Youth Commission will share the results of their own independently conducted surveys, Marpe said.

The WDMA asked more than a hundred merchant members about their employees' commuting and parking practices, while gauging interest in transportation alternatives. The Youth Commission surveyed Staples High School students on their thoughts about what they would like to see in a future downtown.

Based on the themes discussed July 21, Marpe said later "charrette" planning sessions will be scheduled for September. "Ultimately, this citizen input will help guide the planning effort and be integrated into the final downtown master plan," he added.

Three more meetings will be held this summer to discuss in depth several of the projects that are already planned or in development for downtown, including Bedford Square and the Westport Cinema Initiative, Marpe said.

"We are thrilled with the high participation rate and interest that Westporters have shown to date in providing input to the Downtown planning process," Melissa Kane, the chairwoman of the Downtown Steering Committee, said in a statement.

The committee is providing guidance and technical assistance to the RBA Group in developing the master plan.