Public chimes in on downtown master plan

By LISA CAPOBIANCO

STAFF WRITER

Two-story, mixed-use buildings, pedestrian routes and open space areas were among the features unveiled last week in downtown Bristol’s preliminary master plan.

Last Thursday, elected officials, business owners and residents filled the seats of City Hall’s Council Chambers to learn more about the master plan—a road map that will guide future development at Centre Square.

The culmination of a months-long planning process conducted by the Bristol Development Authority and planning consultant Milone & MacBroom, the master plan represents the community’s division for future development at Centre Square while serving as a marketing tool for future developers.

“We have a large, asphalt lot…that can be difficult to define. We know we needed to do something to really…display the lot’s potential,” said BDA Executive Director Justin Malley. “This gives developers a head start, but it also lets them know what the community would like to see on this site, and it’s a great goal to shoot for.”

“Our biggest role here was to be listeners,” said Milone & Macbroom Senior Project Manager Tom Daly. “We listened to the land…to the history of Bristol and what the past has shown us to be successful. We listened to the market in terms of what is being built out on the street, what are the developers looking for.”

During its presentation, Milone & MacBroom described the planning process, which included a detailed look at the existing conditions of the downtown area to identify opportunities and constraints to development on Centre Square. The process also involved a community “visioning” survey and two public outreach events. Over 550 respondents took part in an online visioning survey, which featured focused on demographics, future aspirations for downtown and visual preferences.

The public also participated in visual preferences exercises and gave feedback on preliminary site layouts for Centre Square during the Rockwell Park Summer Festival and the Rockwell Park Summer Concert Series last year.

Patrick Gallagher, a planner for Milone & MacBroom, said these public outreach efforts were at the “cornerstone” of the planning process to understand the community’s vision and then incorporate as many of those elements possible into the master plan.

From medium density and traditional style buildings to a public plaza space to outdoor space for dining and other aesthetic improvements, the preliminary concept design of Centre Square included different visual preferences reported by the public.

“One of our biggest efforts was going out into the community and really going where people are to get them excited about this project,” said Gallagher, adding how the events had a great turnout.

As most people reported traveling to downtown Bristol by car, Gallagher said having adequate and conveniently located parking was crucial for the plan.

While many people reported a preference for angled on-street parking, the community was divided on off-street parking, as slightly more respondents of the visioning survey said they would park in a surface instead of a parking garage. The plan includes flexibility for a future parking garage.

“We took this as an opportunity to be more flexible, and to design a site in a way that could allow the city to have one or the other, depending on timing and future development,” said Gallagher.

As streetscape design is currently underway for Main Street, Riverside Avenue and North Main Street, Williams said there is potential for lane reconfigurations on Riverside Avenue and North Main Street, said Jason Williams, a landscape architect for Milone & MacBroom.

He also noted additional parking opportunities, including 10 parallel parking spaces on Main Street, 46 spaces on Riverside Avenue and 16 public spaces on North Main Street.

“We analyzed the parking and roadways around the site,” said Williams.

The master plan includes pedestrian routes, which Williams said identify all of the sidewalks within the area to “create a diverse system of walkways that are interrupted with open space destination areas.” The plan also incorporates bike lanes.

“In moving through those open plaza spaces, which could include outdoor sculptures, you’re walking by businesses,” said Williams.

As development of Centre Square is likely to occur in stages, Milone & MacBroom identified two phases of potential development. The first phase includes the construction of a central roadway, along with a bus stop and all associated amenities.

“This roadway is currently in design,” said Williams, who commended the city for investing in infrastructure improvements downtown.

The first phase also includes a central lawn open space along North Main Street. Williams said this open space can be used for seasonal events, like Mum Festival events and Christmas tree sales in the winter.

Besides two-story, mixed-use buildings placed along roadways, interior parking and perimeter walkways, the second phase also a 16,000-square foot two-story mixed-use building fronting Main Street with a parking area behind.

“This master plan is a flexible plan,” said Williams, noting how the plan could change. “This is clearly a vision. This flexible development will occur in stages as development really warrants it.”

The plan’s flexibility was something that BDA members commended during the meeting.

“This plan has a lot of flexibility for future developers,” said Dave Preleski. “The way it’s laid out—it can work very nicely.

“This is a pretty comprehensive plan,” said Mickey Goldwasser. “We are trying to do this right, and that’s where the public’s input becomes very important.”

During the meeting, many Bristol residents who spoke before the BDA and the consultant asked questions and overall gave positive feedback on the plan. Public input will be used to shape the final master plan, which the consultant will release later this spring.

“I’m very impressed with the plan. I like all the sidewalks. It does have a pedestrian-friendly feel to it,” said Bristol resident Tim Gamache.

Bristol resident Mike Wilson commended the plan for including a bus stop.

“I commend you for bringing buses into the development instead of just having them continue to go by,” Wilson told the BDA.

While Bristol Hospital continues planning for its proposed medical office building on Centre Square, Milone & MacBroom will recommend next steps that the city should take in order to make the plan a reality. Among these future actions include a downtown parking management plan and grant applications for infrastructure improvements. For now, the internal roadway and utility design continues, as well as the Riverside Avenue and North Main Street streetscape design.

For more information about the Centre Square preliminary master plan, visit www.Bristol CentreSquare.com, where comments and questions about the project can be submitted.

Comments? Email lcapobianco@BristolObserver.com.

Festival and the Rockwell Park Summer Concert Series last year.

Patrick Gallagher, a planner for Milone & MacBroom, said these public outreach efforts were at the “cornerstone” of the planning process to understand the community’s vision and then incorporate as many of those elements possible into the master plan.

From medium density and traditional style buildings to a public plaza space to outdoor space for dining and other aesthetic improvements, the preliminary concept design of Centre Square included different visual preferences reported by the public.

“One of our biggest efforts was going out into the community and really going where people are to get them excited about this project,” said Gallagher, adding how the events had a great turnout.

As most people reported traveling to downtown Bristol by car, Gallagher said having adequate and conveniently located parking was crucial for the plan.

While many people reported a preference for angled on-street parking, the community was divided on off-street parking, as slightly more respondents of the visioning survey said they would park in a surface instead of a parking garage. The plan includes flexibility for a future parking garage.

“We took this as an opportunity to be more flexible, and to design a site in a way that could allow the city to have one or the other, depending on timing and future development,” said Gallagher.

As streetscape design is currently underway for Main Street, Riverside Avenue and North Main Street, Williams said there is potential for lane reconfigurations on Riverside Avenue and North Main Street, said Jason Williams, a landscape architect for Milone & MacBroom.

He also noted additional parking opportunities, including 10 parallel parking spaces on Main Street, 46 spaces on Riverside Avenue and 16 public spaces on North Main Street.

“We analyzed the parking and roadways around the site,” said Williams.

The master plan includes pedestrian routes, which Williams said identify all of the sidewalks within the area to “create a diverse system of walkways that are interrupted with open space destination areas.” The plan also incorporates bike lanes.

“In moving through those open plaza spaces, which could include outdoor sculptures, you’re walking by businesses,” said Williams.

As development of Centre Square is likely to occur in stages, Milone & MacBroom identified two phases of potential development. The first phase includes the construction of a central roadway, along with a bus stop and all associated amenities.

“This roadway is currently in design,” said Williams, who commended the city for investing in infrastructure improvements downtown.

The first phase also includes a central lawn open space along North Main Street. Williams said this open space can be used for seasonal events, like Mum Festival events and Christmas tree sales in the winter.

Besides two-story, mixed-use buildings placed along roadways, interior parking and perimeter walkways, the second phase also a 16,000-square foot two-story mixed-use building fronting Main Street with a parking area behind.

“This master plan is a flexible plan,” said Williams, noting how the plan could change. “This is clearly a vision. This flexible development will occur in stages as development really warrants it.”

The plan’s flexibility was something that BDA members commended during the meeting.

“This plan has a lot of flexibility for future developers,” said Dave Preleski. “The way it’s laid out—it can work very nicely.

“This is a pretty comprehensive plan,” said Mickey Goldwasser. “We are trying to do this right, and that’s where the public’s input becomes very important.”

During the meeting, many Bristol residents who spoke before the BDA and the consultant asked questions and overall gave positive feedback on the plan. Public input will be used to shape the final master plan, which the consultant will release later this spring.

“I’m very impressed with the plan. I like all the sidewalks. It does have a pedestrian-friendly feel to it,” said Bristol resident Tim Gamache.

Bristol resident Mike Wilson commended the plan for including a bus stop.

“I commend you for bringing buses into the development instead of just having them continue to go by,” Wilson told the BDA.

While Bristol Hospital continues planning for its proposed medical office building on Centre Square, Milone & MacBroom will recommend next steps that the city should take in order to make the plan a reality. Among these future actions include a downtown parking management plan and grant applications for infrastructure improvements. For now, the internal roadway and utility design continues, as well as the Riverside Avenue and North Main Street streetscape design.

For more information about the Centre Square preliminary master plan, visit www.Bristol CentreSquare.com, where comments and questions about the project can be submitted.

Comments? Email lcapobianco@BristolObserver.com.

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