Residents put focus on Forestville future

Forestville residents gathered last week at Manross Library to discuss what they’d like to see in the future of their downtown area, and hear updates on what The Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency (CCRPA) and the UConn Community Research and Design Collaborative have been researching and working on thus far.
Residents Penny and Kit Critchley have lived in Forestville for 71 years, and they have no intentions of leaving their “quaint, small community” any time soon. However, they would like to see their area have its small-town feel enhanced.
“I think it’s going to be a really good project,” Penny Critchley said, in reference to what CCRPA and UConn are doing. She added she and her husband have been involved in the meetings and presentations since it began last year, and Kit Critchley said he’d like to see more parallel parking downtown.
“The road (old Route 72) could be narrowed a little, and then add slanted parallel parking,” so people could walk around,” Kit Critchley said, adding the Forestville residents have been enhancing their center square for years, such as beautifying Quinlan Park and holding events like the Pumpkin Festival to bring the community together.
Last June, the Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency (CCRPA) and the UConn Community Research and Design Collaborative teamed up to work with municipalities in the Central Connecticut area, to do studies that would alleviate transportation issues, enhance economic development, affordable and sustainable housing development, and more. One of the areas that was chosen was the Forestville center, and since then, Kristin Thomas, project coordinator and regional planner, said business owners, residents and planning commission members have been holding groups to get feedback on what is needed in the area, and what the strengths and weaknesses are.
One of those meetings was held last week, and members of the community were able to work in groups to discuss the area, and pro vide information on its strengths and weaknesses. 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.
Olga Franczak has lived in Forestville for 88 years, and said she attended the meeting because she was interested in what some of the findings were and where the project was headed. She said she’d like to see Forestville look like “what it used to be years ago,” when it had a meat market, a barber, small shops, cleaners, and more.
Cathy E. has been a resident of Forestville since 2003, and she said she travels through the center every morning and afternoon.
“I have mixed feelings on how I would like to see the roads,” she said, adding that she likes the island, where East Main Street and Broad Street connect. “It gives the community character.”
She said she wants to see Forestville keep “the little town feel it has” and added that some of the buildings and areas could be cleaned up to be more aesthetically pleasing. She added she’d like to see some small businesses like maybe an Italian deli or luncheonette.
Project Coordinator and Regional Planner Kristin Thomas said the goal of the project “is to design a plan that serves the needs and desires of the people in Forestville.”
“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, visit Kristin Thomas can be reached at (860) 589-7820 ext. 153 or at info@forestvilleproject. com.
Comments? Email knaples@BristolObserver. com.-