1) Pick a location such as Conomo Point, Essex (see article below), Gloucester Birds Eye location, etc.
3) plan should provide specific areas for different activities, yet have a cohesive way of tying these different areas together
4) remember to have areas for action and for rest, accommodate various types of transportation, and places for people to come together and to be alone
ESSEX — A vision for the future of "The Village Initiative" is nearing completion after the town's newly hired planning consultant, Carolyn Britt, met formally with the town's Long Term Planning Committee for the first time Thursday night.
The Village, as defined by the planning committee, is a 11/2-mile stretch of Route 133 — including the "The Causeway," and short, contiguous portions of Southern Avenue, Eastern Avenue, John Wise Avenue and Martin Street.
After a community survey this past summer identified the Causeway as an area of concern, the planning committee has been focusing on the creation of the "Village Commercial Corridor" — a document that proposes a number of ideas to create an overall "vision for the village."
Planning committee member and Main Street Antiques owner Robert Coviello said he hopes a final copy of what is now a 21-page Village Initiative will be ready to unveil before the start of the summer.
At the heart of the Village Initiative are a number of project proposals ranging from those that are already in the works to those that have been mentioned around town and others that are new.
A "uniform design plan" proposes the installation of antique street lighting, benches, small trees and decorative planting, as well as historical plaques and other signage. The goal would be the creation of a hard-to-ignore "village identity."
A proposed "transient dock and boardwalk" would be placed between Perkins Marina and the former Riverside restaurant, providing a place for visitors to dock their boats and explore the village. Town Administrator Brendhan Zubricki is currently working the selectmen and State Representatives to secure funding through the Seaport Bond Bill for such a project.
A proposal for improvements to the "town landing" would require the collaboration of the Essex Shipbuilding Museum, Periwinkles, and other abutters to heighten the area's curb appeal while maintaining or improving access to the landing and the river.
A proposal to purchase a small piece of land across from Pike's and Perkins' marinas, owned by the Paglia family, would seek to turn the land into a "pocket park," with benches and landscaping.
Another proposal seeks to work with Ed Perkins, owner of "Spar Pond," which is immediately adjacent to the Paglia property and has historical significance to Essex' shipbuilding heritage, to improve the condition of the pond. The pond was used to soak masts in salt water.
A proposal for the creation of a "community path" — "probably the most ambitious and challenging of the projects," according to the planning committee's current document — would seek to turn a portion of the abandoned B&M Railroad bed into a walkway over several phases.
Another proposal suggests that, if the town can purchase the property at 9 Southern Ave., that it could be used for parking or the finish for the above-mentioned walking path.
A plan to display the town's "historic former railroad freight house" and the "Essex Veteran Fireman's Association's antique hand tub," recommends their placement on Main Street between the former Central School and the White Elephant Shop.
Another nondescript plan cites the restoration of the Town Hall as a matter of concern to the town. A new town body, The Town Building Committee, has recently been formed to consider options for the building, as well as other public buildings.
The village initiative also includes mention of the town's municipal and public safety buildings as a matter of concern. The Town Building Committee is currently engaged in studying the continued use of existing structures — Town Hall and the police/fire station, and the creation of new structures.
Another proposal for the Village Area would create either or both a Business Overlay District Bylaw and a Demolition delay Bylaw. Should either or both proposals be taken into serious consideration, a Town Meeting vote would be required to approve them.
Conducting a "parking study" would create an inventory of current private and public parking spaced within the Village and help identify the steps to improve parking near Essex's Village businesses.
Another proposal seeks to improve Memorial Field by replacing the town's long dilapidated tennis courts. A grass-roots group, "the Essex Parks Improvement Committee," working with the town selectmen, recently received Conservation Commission approval to construct two tennis courts on Memorial Field and replace the existing courts with a basketball court. The group, which is privately raising all the funds needed for the project, is currently seeking donations.
A final proposal seeks to create a strategic plan for a stretch of Rte. 133 between the Fortune Palace and Woodman's restaurants, which would explore ways to foster development in the area.
Coveillo said the village initiative presents a number of ideas that the planning committee think are viable in the hopes "that someone else along the way will buy into some of these ideas and become the stakeholder for moving them forwards."
Britt, of Community Investment Associates, called the village initiative an "interesting and well written document that covers many of the types of projects that could be undertaken."
She added that the re-paving and the addition of sidewalks planned for the Causeway and other areas of Route 133 by MassHighway will be beneficial to the groups' plans by performing the most expensive improvements in the area.
The planning committee was urged by Britt to work with MassHighway to see what improvements in terms of signage could be included, or at least accommodated for, in the project.
Britt also suggested the inclusion of increased historical preservation, a tourism study, a look at the issues arising from Chapter 91 and consideration of the viability of the area's real estate market.
The planning committee asked Britt to help identify funding sources for the plan's project — some have already been proposed by the planning committee and others by Britt. The committee will meet next with Britt on Tuesday, May 19.