Community input sought on transit-oriented development
FAIRFIELD — The town is enlisting the public’s help in exploring transit-oriented development opportunities near the Fairfield Metro and downtown train stations.
The Town Plan and Zoning and Economic Development commissions held a kick-off meeting Wednesday to hear suggestions from the community.
“We hope to conclude by November 2019,” TPZ Director James Wendt said. The Boston firm Goody Clancy has been hired to conduct the planning study and recommend policy updates to achieve the town’s development goals. A state grant will fund the study.
Those goals, Goody Clancy’s Ben Carlson told the audience, will be developed based on input received from residents. “This is the beginning of the planning process,” he said. “Our goal here, really, is to support the economic development of the town.”
Attendees were asked to use stickers to mark their connection to the train stations — do they live nearby, work in the area, like to dine or shop there, where they think change is needed, and what places they love. There were sheets of paper at each table to lists goals and priorities, but the meeting also include text polls that allowed everyone to see the responses as they came.
“You really have a remarkable downtown,” Carlson said. “It’s a very impressive mix of options.”
The area around the Fairfield Metro station, he said, however, is an area in transition. “What positive word do you want associated with Fairfield Metro?”
The words the audience texted in response included big, potential, lively, magnet and accessible.
“Our challenge is how do we take that potential and turn it into something remarkable?” Carlson said. He said they needed to identify and focus on challenges to reach that potential. Again, the audience turned to their phones — traffic, safety, bathrooms, and underdeveloped were some of the responses.
Words used to describe the downtown train station included quaint, charm, amenities and diversity, while challenges there were described as congestion, parking and traffic.
“We’ll identify sites where the property value is significantly below the economic potential and get a sense of where that change might happen, and where it might not happen,” Carlson said.
Carlson said his firm will take the feedback received at the meeting and incorporate it into some preliminary recommendations, which they will present at another public meeting this fall for further refinement.