By KAITLYN NAPLES
Last June, the Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency (CCRPA) and the University of Connecticut Community Research and Design Collaborative teamed up to work with municipalities in the Central Connecticut area to initiate studies that would alleviate transportation issues, enhance economic development, affordable and sustainable housing development and more.
Forestville center was one of the areas that was selected. Since then, Kristin Thomas, project coordinator and regional planner, said business owners, residents, and planning commission members have been holding group meetings to get feedback on what is needed in the area, and what the strengths and weaknesses are.
On Tuesday, Oct. 9, anyone from Forestville and Bristol is encouraged to attend a public meeting and information session on the project at Manross Library from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
The area being studied is the intersection in the center of Forestville, on Center Street, Broad Street and Forestville Avenue, and is focusing on transportation flow, pedestrian issues, economic development in the area and what issues are limiting development, on-street parking options, what businesses are in demand and village identity. By working with residents, business owners and officials, Thomas said, planners would be able to generate a potential design to enhance and improve downtown Forestville, based on what the individuals who are working and living there, are looking for.
At the meeting on Oct. 9, Thomas said an overview of the project will be provided, as well as who is involved, and the research and analysis that has been done so far, and findings. There will also beopportunities for anyone who attends to offer input and ask questions about the project. Those in attendance can also view drawings and designs of what the downtown area could possibly look like.
“It is an opportunity for the public to offer feedback on what they want to see in the future, and what the problems and the treasures of the area are,” Thomas said.
Since the new Route 72 has been opened, Thomas said the amount of traffic traveling through the center of Forestville has decreased, so the planning agency wants to look at how the old Route 72 (Broad Street and Central Street) can be enhanced.
“We inventoried different types of housing, and what could be built, what kinds of businesses are downtown and what people are looking for,” said Thomas. She said she has heard that residents want to see more retail, restaurants and coffee shops in the downtown Forestville area. “People want to see a more vibrant village type of setting.”
Thomas said that Forestville has its own identity “and residents and business owners want that identity to be maintained and enhanced,” she said.
This project isn’t to be compared to the redevelopment of downtown Bristol, because they are two separate projects and with two separate focuses. However, there is one similarity in that the intention is to create a “walkable, pedestrian-friendly downtown.” Yet, there is the intent of creating a particular Forestville flavor to it.
Thomas said there is expected to be a final public meeting this winter with designs of a plan, with strong visual components and text about the details of the plan. The hope, Thomas said, is that when the design plan is complete that the city would adopt it, or parts of it, and be able to apply for grants to eventually construct either the whole plan or parts of it.
‘The goal of this is to design a plan that serves the needs and desires of the people in Forestville,” Thomas said. “To do that, we need input from those people. We are bringing our expertise in planning, however we don’t live or have an office in Forestville, so the people who are actually in Forestville all the time can share the negative and positive aspects of the area, to help us create a successful plan supported by the community.”
For information on the project and updates leading up to the Oct. 9 meeting, visit www.forestvilleproject.com. Kristin Thomas can be reached at (860) 589-7820 ext. 153 or at info@forestvilleproject. com. The meeting on Oct. 9 will be at Manross Library, 260 Central St., Bristol, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
By KAITLYN NAPLES