STONINGTON — Members of the Economic Development Commission are working to help shape the future of downtown Pawcatuck. But first, they want to know what residents and local business owners hope to see through revitalization. To that end, a community conversation will be held on Tuesday that will focus on developing a public vision for long-term growth downtown.
EDC Chairman Dave Hammond said the program, "A Vision for Pawcatuck," will focus on four key areas: riverfront access, development of vacant properties, redevelopment of historic buildings, and streetscape and park development.
"There are some exciting things going on downtown right now. Jim Lathrop is putting a lot of work into a few of the buildings, Hoof's Restaurant is proving successful and there is a new bank that has come in," Hammond said. "Now is the time to build on that momentum and develop a plan that can help keep it going."
The community conversation is the first in a series designed to seek input from the public. Hammond said the idea is to build off progress made in the years since Stonington's Plan of Conservation and Development was approved in 2015.
Hammond said that for several years aspects of the plan have been implemented, including changes to zoning regulations that were intended to attract investors.
With those regulations now in place and redevelopment already occurring along West Broad Street in Pawcatuck, Hammond said now is the time to get residents involved and determine what they want to see downtown.
"In order to build a future that everyone can be proud of, we need to hear from the community exactly what it is they'd like to see," he said.
The discussion will begin with a brief overview followed by a slide-based discussion led by Michael Rauh, president and CEO of Chelsea Groton Bank, one of the financial institutions with operations in Pawcatuck.
Hammond and First Selectman Danielle Chesebrough, who had served as a member of the EDC until she was elected to the town's top office in November, said residents will be asked to consider options for several areas, including the best use of vacant lots along Liberty Street and near Noyes Avenue.
Residents will also be asked to consider how to address public access to the river, according to Chesebrough. This may include concepts for a linear path or greenway — or something entirely different, if that's what the public supports.
She encouraged residents to get into the discussion now in order to assure that their wants and concerns are heard before concepts are implemented. People who can't make the meeting are also encouraged to reach out to the Economic Development Commission and directly to the First Selectman's Office to make their voices heard.
"The more that people people get involved early, the better we will be able to shape a vision that everyone can be proud of," Chesebrough said.
The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the Stonington Schools Administration Building, 40 Field St. in Pawcatuck. Anyone with questions is encouraged to reach out to Hammond by email at email@example.com.