Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Commentary On The Washington Street Proposal

Bill Wasch sent the following commentary in to The Eye, after attending Tuesday's forum at Wesleyan on the possible move of the Wesleyan bookstore to a new shopping center on Washington Street. Wasch is an alumnus and former trustee of Wesleyan, a Middletown resident, and founder of a business that designs, builds, and remodels homes for seniors.
I was there today in the back. I was very much disappointed in the presentation and thought Wes should be able to do better. I thought the best comment was by the person who talked about the connection between the campus and downtown along Williams Str. I was on the Wes Board of Trustees when we hired the former Harvard planner to establish the main campus road behind North college which follows the line through the art center to behind the former Scott lab and over Church to the Science Center. This is the diagonal of the campus and has done a lot to integrate the campus via the student union and former squash courts. It is ridiculous to try to tie Wes to downtown any other way, the current axis supports the Wes book store which houses WESU and a comfortable book cafe. Why a new big box book store (Barnes and Nobles and many other book stores are on the way out)? I do not think much intelligence has been exerted on the current plan. I was embarrassed for the proponents and hope they give up sooner than later.

The developer who was running the meeting did not endear himself to the audience in the way he handled the meeting nor did Wes impress me through its presentation.

All in all, a sad commentary on Wes planning.

Bill Wasch


Anonymous said...

why wasn't the Havard planner chosen to do this development instead if he had better experience?

Anonymous said...

This is clearly a very bad idea by a developer who improperly built out the old Peltons corner to limit retail traffic and now this. Wesleyan has further demonstrated its lack of concern for Middletown with additional poor management decisions.One has to question who is running the show at the top of the hill.

Wendy Sheil said...

I attended this meeting as well. I am a life long resident of Middletown and very involved with the Wesleyan campus, and have been for much of my life. This just does not sound like a good idea to me, at all. I do not like the location. I do not feel a need for these businesses in our area...just doesn't appeal to me, personally. I love supporting local businesses in the downtown area and greater Middletown. We now count some of these folks as out friends - we go so often. It just doesn't feel right for us. The presentation at the meeting did nothing to impress me - I actually became more concerned than I had been due to how many of the questions were responded to by CenterPlan, primarily. I realize that they were frustrated by the response from the crowd - but they could have gone a long way by entertaining folks concerns rather than dismissing them. It is early in the project, yes?

Shane said...

Does anyone remember the small abandoned community garden which still produces asparagus, sage, chives and more? You know the "vacant lot" to be developed. The lot produced a locavorian delight of fresh sage and chives that accented this years delicious Thanksgiving meal at my house. Yum. The garden was a student neighborhood venture that unless you are a local you would easily have missed from behind the wheel of your car. It was a nice oasis. Is there a plan to replace this community garden green space? I am so glad too see some of my fellow townies begin to discuss the madness of our car culture. Once your step back and walk your living neighborhood you can see car dominance for the insanity that it is. We were born with feet not wheels.

Anonymous said...

The mill building that Wesleyan owns on College street would be a better location. Already parking.

Anonymous said...

"All in all, a sad commentary on Wes planning." Isn't this the way it's been for 100 years? Town and Gown. Wes thought it was better than the town and the town thought it was better than Wes U. They have always been butting heads. So unlike Ithaca NY, Northampton Ma and so many others you have an un-college town. You have a proposal thats not good for the town or the college yet will likely go through.

Folks, there's no such thing as a "LIttle Ivy", just a Ivy wanna-be. If WU had a vision of itself and how it plays into the community and the community had a vision of how WU plays into it, there's so much opportunity. Look at Green Street, a place dead in the water. Light a match under both UW and the city and you could have great things happen.

Anonymous said...

Another example of why it's a bad idea.