Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Riverfront Planning Workshops Kick Off Tonight

The Planning and Zoning Commission tonight will begin consideration of plans for better utilization of Middletown's riverfront. The Commission will hear from the City Planning office about the various plans that have been developed to improve access to the river and to spur economic development.

Plans for the development of the riverfront date back probably as far as the founding of Middletown. In recent years, riverfront development plans have focused on the area south/east of Harbor Park, where the river curves east away from the wretched Route 9 which otherwise cleaves Middletown from the River (maps available at the Planning Department web site). The Commission will also review maps of the entire waterfront, and decide what the formal focus area of the riverfront planning should be.

Mayor Giuliano asked the Planning and Zoning Commission to take the lead in a renewed effort to develop the riverfront. In a letter to the Commission, Giuliano identified several steps that needed to be taken:
  • Review the results of the riverfront planning workshop [held over 10 years ago] and the Harbor Management plan;
  • Seek an update from the DOT on the Route 9 southern interchange project and the bridge lighting project;
  • Seek an update from the Water and Sewer Department on the status of the sewage plant relocation;
  • Gain an understanding of the ramifications of having the OMO superfund site within our riverfront development area; and
  • Meet with Lady Katherine Cruise lines, the Lions Club, the Parks and Recreation Department, and the new operator of the Harbor Park Restaurant to understand the issues at Harbor Park and the best way to connect the riverfront to the downtown and expand the park towards the sewage plant.
Relocation of the City's sewage treatment plant is critical to any riverfront development.  The Economic Development Commission, in December of 2009, called for an update on plans for moving the plant. Guy Russo, director of Water and Sewer, will provide this to the Planning and Zoning Commission tonight.

Future meetings of the P&Z Commission will focus on other riverfront planning issues.  On April 13th, the topics will be transportation issues, including Route 9, pedestrian access, and the railroad tracks.  On May 11th, the Commission will discuss the connections between the Harbor Park area and future riverfront devlelopment, and discuss the impact of the OMO toxic waste superfund site within the riverfront development area.

Tonight's meeting is in Council Chambers, at 7PM. Early in the meeting, there is a public comment period, for on any items on the agenda which are not currently scheduled for a public hearing.


John Hall said...

This planning process and its outcome are extremely important for the quality of life and appeal of the City of Middletown in the future. I wish I could attend this first meeting, but I have duties related to Ash Wednesday (today). It does seem obvious that a linear park along the river with a multi-use walking and biking trail should be at the heart of the plan. I do plan to attend future meetings and thank you, fishmuscle, for this post.

Anonymous said...

P&Z. There is a Harbor Improvement Commisson--please be sure that Commssion is consulted.