Car park project kicks off Westport town center improvements

WESTPORT – Construction of the Baldwin car park near Elm Street began this week, kicking off a series of improvements to car parks around the city planned for the coming years.

The projects extend beyond parking spaces and would include other features that could improve accessibility, reclaim the waterfront and add green spaces, as well as recreational opportunities, officials said.

“This is the first of several large Westport town center lots to be rebuilt and reconfigured to enhance the downtown parking experience,” first coach Jennifer Tooker said in a statement. “In the coming years, we will also be reinventing the Parker Harding Lot, the Taylor Lot (near Jesup Green) and the Imperial Avenue car park, to provide functional and convenient parking on both sides of Post Road. ”

The project will include updates to the asphalt surface, new drainage pipes and regrading of the land. The bundle will also include new features as officials install LED lights, electric vehicle charging ports, security cameras and blue light emergency stations.

This undertaking is expected to continue “until June” before being completed, Public Works Director Peter Ratkiewich said in the statement.

The city’s redevelopment strategy revolves around these four lots – the Baldwin Lot, the Parker Harding Lot, the Taylor Lot, and the Imperial Avenue Lot. They are also looking to increase the usability of walkable spaces like Parker Harding and Jesup Green, according to the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee (DPIC).

Reducing the area’s carbon footprint and making modifications to prepare for possible flooding are also part of the plan. Improving technology in the region through public/private partnerships is also being discussed.

“Reinventing things is never easy, but the goal is to create a more inviting space that offers experiences as well as the ability to buy a pair of jeans,” said Matthew Mandell, executive director of the chamber of Weston-Westport trade. “Having tables and booths and live music by the river will make the already bustling downtown scene even better.”

While the Baldwin batch is approved, the other three batches are still assigned to design concepts, according to Mandell. He said the construction schedule for the three lots is unknown at this stage, given that they are still in the design phase.

He said those projects will be funded by American Rescue Plan Act funds provided to the city, which the Representative City Assembly will vote on next week.

The goal of the Parker Harding project is to “reclaim the waterfront” while providing parking for visitors to Main Street stores, Mandell said. This may include a pedestrian bridge across the river, he said.

At Jesup Green, which is near the library, the town wants to reverse the current layout to create green space along the river “while still having enough parking to meet needs,” Mandell said.

“It would further enhance the downtown experience with a possible play area for children and a boat dock that would bring a new group of visitors to downtown,” he said.

The city has just been awarded $2.81 million in federal funding for Saugatuck River dredgingsomething Tooker said at the time would help bring boating back to the area.

The Imperial lot will be redone and the spaces reconfigured, according to the plans of the DPIC. New lighting, blue emergency terminals and charging stations for electric vehicles can also be installed there. There are also plans to upgrade the footpaths.

This is the lot that the Westport Farmers’ Market has called home since 2009. The town is considering adding a covered part for the market which could “allow covered parking outside of market times”. says the city website.

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David H. Henry