Council approves Downtown Streetscape plan

Terry RogersGovernment & Politics, Headlines, Milford Headline Story

Concept drawings of downtown streetscape upgrades passed by City Council

Milford City Council voted to approve a Downtown Streetscape plan that was presented at the June 12 meeting. The request was tabled so council could hear more public comment about changes proposed to South Walnut Street, Denney Row, Park Place and Southwest Second Street. The plan was approved as designed except for a suggestion that Southwest Second Street be returned to one-way as opposed to the current two-way direction.

“We can also include some public participation and some council participation during the design phase as well so that you’re not just seeing construction start. You will see the construction plans at a future date,” Rob Pierce, City Planner, said. “But we do want to get a general consensus from council before we scope out a design proposal from an engineering consultant.”

The Downtown Streetscape plan was created by KCI Technologies which used many of the ideas presented in the Rivertown Rebirth Plan created by Arnett Muldrow several years ago. There was discussion regarding dumpsters at Arena’s and the original plan suggested they be moved to the front of the building, but an updated plan simply built an enclosure around them. A roundabout presented in the original plan which would have been located at Southwest Front and Walnut Street was removed in the final version presented to council.

“I really do like this plan, and it increases the pedestrian walking area,” Councilman Andy Fulton said. “And for downtown to be successful, we have to have people walking about and if we make it more accessible and brighten it up the way this is designed, I think that we’re gonna see increased traffic, increased business opportunities, and I think it’s really good for the city.”

Councilman Todd Culotta agreed that the plan looked good and that the upgrades to downtown would be beneficial. He suggested that additional public comment be taken so that council had more of an idea what the people of the town wanted.

“At Southwest Front Street, I’d really still like to see that stay two way,” Councilman Culotta said. “I just think that the way we have it set up now with the removal of the lights and stop signs, I think that’s very functional. But again, I would like to hear from other folks, not just discuss, not just debating within Council, but listening to the public.”

The only public comment came from David Pickerell who, along with his wife, owns two buildings on South Walnut Street. His concern was a greenery box placed in a municipal parking lot behind 8 and 10 South Walnut Street, the two buildings he owns. He felt that area needed to remain an unloading zone for the businesses located in that area of South Walnut Street.

“I think this was done at the level of a concept rendering. I think there’s gonna be some modifications to the overall design of these things as we encounter those types of accessibility concerns, runoff, drainage, all those things will need to be taken into consideration at that next level but we can certainly work with the business owners in this area when we go to design this parking lot to make sure that we’re keeping adequate access,” Pierce said. “If it means not planting a tree in that particular location and patching it off, that can be fine. It’d be nice to find another place to do some plantings and some greenery in there. But I have made a note of that comment.”

Pierce also explained that keeping Southwest Front Street as a two-way street, there may be some issues with widening sidewalks or adding parking. It may also be difficult to add some of the brick design features on the street.

“That street is relatively wide. And there will still be plenty of walking space there with a two way configuration,” Councilman Culotta said. “Really, if you look at the businesses that are there that drive the traffic would be the Caribbean store and My Sister’s Fault, which their new design is more of a pickup and go type of business with their new remodeling. So, I still think because of our traffic study with the lights that still make sense makes me believe that any parking that would be gained by making this street one way there’s plenty of parking in that in that municipal lot behind it.”

City engineer James Puddicombe pointed out that the street would return to two-way during the repair of the Church Street bridge, but that repair was not planned until 2026.

Council approved the plan with the caveat Southwest Front Street remain two-way with a vote of 7 to 1. The only dissenting vote was Councilman Fulton.

“I vote no. Let’s keep it the way it’s designed,” Councilman Fulton said. “It just seems that even with it one-way, traffic will look like it does now. I see no reason to add brick design features to something and then change the design, we’re not really doing anything and then it’s just a waste of money if we don’t do it as designed.”

Councilman Culotta disagreed.

“I vote yes because I feel that it will be improved with the brick walkway. So it will look different and it will also allow for better traffic flow through there for deliveries to those businesses that need it,” Councilman Culotta said. “So, we don’t need to change it just for the sake of changing it. We change it because it suits the community. I like safety but I think this makes the area even more safe.”

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