WESTPORT — Guiding principles for the design of Saugatuck Center were rolled out at the June 1 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

The project, which is called “A Gateway for Westport,” focuses on making downtown Saugatuck a more attractive and walkable area while maintaining historic structures — like the Bridge Street Bridge — and reducing traffic congestion.

Seth Shapiro, principal of Barton Partners and lead for the project, said his biggest priority is pedestrian access and beautification.

“If there’s one thing we need to fix, it’s the unpleasant walks,” he said. “In Saugatuck you’re walking over broken sidewalks.”

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Barton Partners’ plan

1. Cribari Bridge shall remain as is with possible enhanced pedestrian/bicycle access.

2. No additional transit parking spaces shall be added.

3. Reduce traffic by discouraging cut-through traffic.

4. Celebrate the existing historic resources of Saugatuck.

5. Enhance the pedestrian experience in Saugatuck, including waterfront access, civic spaces, park spaces, sidewalk, lighting improvements and streetscape.

6. Provide parking strategies to support local businesses and reduce the prominence of parking as the primary land use in Saugatuck.

7. Enhance the gateway experience to Saugatuck and Westport.

8. Establish a regulatory framework for implementation of plan recommendations.

9. Recognize the importance of Saugatuck’s transportation infrastructure and enhance the character of Saugatuck.

Shapiro said they are at the end of their analysis phase with some contentious results.

“We have completed our base analysis, our initial findings and I think one of the controversies was what is the market,” he said, adding that, according to their demographer, there is a potential for 300 to 600 more units in Saugatuck due to a growing need for multi-family apartments

for both millennials and


Cathy Walsh, Planning and Zoning chairwoman, said the number of units was “a concern of many people,” noting that “Westport really is a single-family town.” Shapiro responded saying the number of units was not necessarily a recommendation, but an observation from the analysis.

Based on their analysis, Barton Partners proposed adding no additional transit parking spaces. Currently, 34 percent of people on the permit waiting list are not Westporters, Shapiro said. Consequently, the goal should be to cut down on the amount of pavement and space dedicated to the car — an area which Shapiro says “looks like a park-and-ride” instead of a village.

Danielle Dobin, a member of the commission, said more thought should be given to commuter parking spaces.

“People come in and buy a house for millions of dollars and commute to the city and wait years for parking passes,” she said.

There will be a community open house to see where the project stands June 12 in Town Hall at 6:30 p.m.

@chrismmarquette; cmarquette@bcnnew.com