Liveblogging the Bookstore Relocation Open Forum

Greetings from PAC 001, where an open forum on the proposed bookstore relocation is about to begin. Seats are filling up quickly; so far I spot about 20 or 30 community members, a suited Centerplan representative, a small handful of students, and one or two professors (including Susanne Fusso, famed Professor of Russian Language and Literature). The average age in this room is probably well over 35, which is interesting. Where are all the students? (Update: As of the start of the forum, many more students have streamed in, and there are probably well over 130 people here, of pretty much all ages.)

Community members both inside and outside of Wesleyan’s campus have weighed in on the proposed development. Many, like Wesleyan alum and parent Jen Alexander ’88 and Red & Black owner Ed Thorndike ’89, are against it. Mayor Drew, on the other hand, is all for it, mostly on the grounds of job creation. If recent comments are any indication, there will be some strong views raised at this forum.

Wesleying’s liveblog coverage begins past the jump.

Zach November 27, 20128:08 PM

Inspired by the strong viewpoints, I filmed a few quick video interviews with some of the Middletown residents who spoke up. Those should appear on the blog tomorrow.

Zach November 27, 20128:07 PM

Oh, and probably goes without saying: many Wes people have strong feelings about this proposal but couldn’t make it to the forum. That’s what the comments section’s for — write in.

Zach November 27, 20126:29 PM

“Alright, thank you, we appreciate the input.” Forum’s over.

Zach November 27, 20126:27 PM

“I don’t think we’ve considered all options,” concludes Alexander. “We can do better.”

Zach November 27, 20126:26 PM

Jen Alexander ’88, owner of KidCity (I think?), speaks: “I hope the University doesn’t participate in turning that chunk of Washington Street into commercial development. From 2003 – 2006, I was one of the people on the bookstore transition committee.”

Zach November 27, 20126:21 PM

Question: “If this doesn’t go through, does Wesleyan have a plan for any of that property? How does it fit into your housing plan of all this extra stock?”

Zach November 27, 20126:17 PM

Mr. Centerplan says, “We believe that there were urban downtown vitality issues that we believe we can address.” But it’s clear that nobody in this room believes this development will address those issues.

Zach November 27, 20126:16 PM

Centerplan’s new argumentative tactic: point out that this development is good because it’s not Walmart.

Zach November 27, 20126:16 PM

CEO of Centerplan: “We look for opportunities of real estate that achieve success not just financially… We could develop Walmarts if we wanted that.”

Zach November 27, 20126:16 PM

Virgil: “I feel like you haven’t really addressed a mission statement for this project. You haven’t made it clear why you want to build this building. Like… why??? I think it’s a real question.”

Zach November 27, 20126:14 PM

Virgil ’15 chips in and notes that the Argus and WESU are both housed above the current bookstore and that half of WESU’s current volunteers are from the community: “We actively try to cultivate a connection between the Wesleyan students and the Middletown community.”

Zach November 27, 20126:13 PM

Nate Peters says, “I think there might have even been one or two positive comments on the blog” — referring to the Wesleyan blog about this project.

Zach November 27, 20126:12 PM

Centerplan is asked what obstacles they foresee in the plan, but doesn’t want to answer — says they haven’t really spent any money on “professionals to analyze those issues.”

Zach November 27, 20126:11 PM

CEO of Centerplan jokes, “The discussion is what, 50-50?” Says, “You’ve made your opinions known very respectfully, and I appreciate that.”

Zach November 27, 20126:10 PM

Student: “What would happen to the building that the bookstore’s currently in?” Notes that she pretty exclusively eats at Red & Black and WesWings, and “It’s a shame that a business that’s shown so much loyalty to students is being put in danger by the school.”

Zach November 27, 20126:10 PM

Seven- or eight-year-old kid just sat down next to me. Hoping he chimes in about KidCity’s architecture.

Zach November 27, 20126:09 PM

“We believe in the value of historic structures and what they mean for the city,” says a community member. “Your erosion of that residential core is just gonna push back another block. Those people living behind this development — it’s not gonna be a very pleasant experience.”

Zach November 27, 20126:06 PM

Comment from a white-haired community member: “A historical observation about the evolution of the campus. I think many years ago Wes recognized that it was too big and too spread out and didn’t have a center. So they spent a lot of money getting a planner to help them decide where to put the new student center. And they put it there, and it was critical to finally getting a center of the campus.”

Zach November 27, 20126:03 PM

Same community members: “If Wesleyan is instrumental in bringing in national retailers that have never been here before, it doesn’t really sound like Wesleyan is supporting Middletown.” Centerplan: “Fair enough.”

Zach November 27, 20126:03 PM

Middletown resident: “I think everybody here knows, though nobody has said specifically, that Middletown is a very charming town. And unique. And I think one of the main reasons is because we don’t have national chains, aside from drug stores. You’re proposing to change all of that, with this project.”

Zach November 27, 20126:01 PM

A Middletown resident asks if they’ll still go ahead with the proposal of Middletown doesn’t support the zoning changes.

Zach November 27, 20126:00 PM

Ninety minutes into the discussion, and Middletown residents still have serious complaints and points to bring up. I’m getting really hungry. Does anyone want to get dinner?

Zach November 27, 20125:59 PM

Somewhat of a mass exodus out the door, but the discussion is still going. A community member is arguing that there won’t be a “gateway,” that we should have a main proposal along the main drag, “not up a few blocks. It just won’t work.”

Zach November 27, 20125:59 PM

She’s still speaking. “If this next project is not good for Middletown, don’t do it. Or find a different space. Or do it differently.”

Zach November 27, 20125:57 PM

Same alum/Middletown resident goes on: “I think that’s a violation of what makes this town attractive. When I got divorced, I couldn’t live anywhere else in the country. I decided, this is the town I want to live in. There is a downtown, but the residential area is right close to it. There’s no sprawl.”

Zach November 27, 20125:56 PM

The older alum quips, “He would turn over in his grave, but I can’t forward him the email.” Didn’t catch who the “he” was, but that garnered a lot of laughs.

Zach November 27, 20125:55 PM

An older Middletown resident and alum says “this meeting is a little late in the game. We should’ve had this many months ago. Because Wesleyan needs to think about basic things — like what direction do we want the campus going in.”

Zach November 27, 20125:53 PM

Nate Peters says they still have to make a decision about whether or not students will be able to use their meal plan at the new bookstore.

Zach November 27, 20125:53 PM

Current Wesleyan student (can’t see who it is) points out that we already have food and Red & Black Cafe at the current bookstore and that if Wesleyan doesn’t own the new building, we won’t be able to use our meal plan at establishments in the new building. Says: “What I’m hearing is that we’re getting a new bookstore on the other side of a dangerous street that has food establishments where we can’t use our meal plan.”

Zach November 27, 20125:52 PM

Nate Peters is speaking again and reiterating that there are no additional costs for Wesleyan to move the bookstore.

Zach November 27, 20125:49 PM

WSA rep Zach Malter ’13 speaks up: “I want to echo the concerns of safety. That Washington Street intersection can be pretty bad, and unless you address that, I can’t see myself getting behind this proposal.” Suggests a more good-faith proposal to solve the traffic issues which this development obviously exacerbates.

Zach November 27, 20125:48 PM

Same community member responds again: “I guess you’re thinking of real in terms of a corporate store. Well, I think small businesses are real.”

Zach November 27, 20125:47 PM

CEO of Centerplan says, “I don’t think it’s necessary to get personal,” then gets personal: “I have a four-year-old daughter. I go to the Armado’s bookstore. And we don’t have in Middletown a real bookstore, whether for children or adults.”

Zach November 27, 20125:47 PM

Community member: “I’m a third-generation toy collector, I love children’s books. But you seem to lack an understand of the geography, and if you went inside Amado’s, you’d know they have a bookstore for kids. If you went into Main Street Markets, you’d see they sell a wide variety of books for all subjects.”

Zach November 27, 20125:46 PM

“In my view,” responds Centerplan, “the Wesleyan campus doesn’t have any physical linkage to the Middletown environment.” He says this will help people on Main Street and people in Wesleyan patronizing the same location, and it’ll bring people together. But why doesn’t Broad Street Books already do that?

Zach November 27, 20125:45 PM

“I have a friendly question,” says one community member — causing laughter all around. “I want to understand what is the ‘linkage’ that you’re talking about? Does that mean people are walking and they’ll go to the bookstore?”

Zach November 27, 20125:44 PM

Carbone: “To me, it makes me feel sick.” Applause.

Zach November 27, 20125:43 PM

Someone (I think that’s Buru Style drummer Bill Carbone?) is saying, “Whether or not you decide it’s a residential neighborhood, it’s on the edge of one.” Points out that he lives on Pearl Street and says, “I really hate to think of the gateway to Middletown being chain stores.” Applause from others.

Zach November 27, 20125:42 PM

“We’re here to listen to you specifically,” says Centerplan, “and to give you enough information about the project to answer your questions the best we can.”

Zach November 27, 20125:41 PM

Centerplan: “The specific people who have said they’re in support of this are Mayor Dan Drew and Larry [something], Director of the Chambers.”

Zach November 27, 20125:41 PM

Centerplan: “I think everyone here has made the point that you don’t think Wesleyan should relocate its bookstore. You’ve made the point.” Goes on, says, “We will need to decide to present a formal application to the city to develop this area without Wesleyan as a tenant.” Says we have the right, as citizens of Middletown, to oppose it. “We present our argument and so does the opposition and it’s decided at that point whether it goes forward or not.”

Zach November 27, 20125:40 PM

Great question from student: “You say that you’re here to get our input. So what would it take for you to realize that this is not what the community wants? How can we officially tell you that we do not want this and what would it take for you to say, ‘Okay, enough is enough.'”

Zach November 27, 20125:39 PM

A student (I think?) agrees that it’s important to integrate Wesleyan and Middletown culture, but “I completely disagree that this is the way to do it.”

Zach November 27, 20125:38 PM

Centerplan says something about parking on It’s Only Natural and Eli’s Cannon and everybody yells and says he’s wrong. Didn’t catch what the comment was.

Zach November 27, 20125:38 PM

Commenter: “We can’t address this! You just said it’s the state’s problem!” Centerplan responds vaguely, says “it’s a problem that will need to be addressed if this project moves forward.”

Zach November 27, 20125:37 PM

Commenter concludes: “I think this is just in La la Land.” Major applause.

Zach November 27, 20125:37 PM

Commenter points out that when you make a left turn onto Washington Street, you can sit through three traffic lights. “The traffic is absolutely horrendous.” He’s absolutely right — I’ve always wondered why there isn’t a green arrow for left turns.

Zach November 27, 20125:37 PM

Commenter continues, says he’s seen major streamlining of Route 66. “The state has been working for decades to increase traffic on that road.” Says “I’m completely sympathetic with the project, I just think the location is a disaster waiting to happen. To pretend that the traffic is not a problem is to go in the face of 30 years of expanding that road and seeing traffic increase and increase and increase.”

Zach November 27, 20125:36 PM

Comment from resident who’s lived in Middletown for 38 years: “I’d just like to say, I don’t like this idea.” Major laughter and applause.

Zach November 27, 20125:35 PM

Community member says “This is really not something to be handled lightly” and wonders if the state can get involved in constructing on Route 66.

Zach November 27, 20125:34 PM

Comment from Middletown resident: “When I work at night, I hear accidents. I’m very familiar with this. There’s a little complacency about this.” Centerplan responds: “There’s no complacency.”

Zach November 27, 20125:33 PM

Centerplan: “If you agree with that, you get up, you run from office, you change zoning laws, and you become part of the solution, just like I did.” Random cranky audience member: “I’ll do that!” Applause.

Zach November 27, 20125:32 PM

Professor Schatz just turned around, smiled at me, and muttered, “Socialism.”

Zach November 27, 20125:32 PM

CEO of Centerplan: “You don’t ever prevent that from happening. Anywhere.”

Zach November 27, 20125:32 PM

Her question continues: “This is a very difficult economy that we’re in. Local businesses have been climbing up slowly. It’s come a long way [since the ’80s] and not without the work of local people like KidCity. If it’s zoned commercial and Starbucks suddenly decides, ‘We’re out of here,’ you have no control over that. How do you prevent that from happening?”

Zach November 27, 20125:31 PM

Middletown resident: “There’s been lots of fender benders, there’s been one person killed. I live on Pearl Street and cross Wash. every day. It takes 11 seconds to cross. I have almost never seen a Wesleyan student push the button. They never push the button! I just think you really need to keep that in mind.”

Zach November 27, 20125:28 PM

Same audience commenter responds: “When money is spent at a national chain, money goes to China. Or Taiwan.”

Zach November 27, 20125:28 PM

CEO: “I don’t believe in the argument that if a Chipotle comes in, Mondo is hurt. We believe in competition.”

Zach November 27, 20125:27 PM

Centerplan CEO responds, “It’s good for everyone when companies of the stature we’re talking about express an interest in this environment.”

Zach November 27, 20125:26 PM

Excellent question from a community member: “I’d like to know what it is that prevents you from inviting local businesses into this space and if there’s anything communities can do to make it possible.” Centerplan CEO: “We welcome local businesses. And we welcome national businesses.”

Zach November 27, 20125:26 PM

Community member says there will be an article on the front page of the NYT questioning Wesleyan’s negligence in putting a bookstore across from a major highway. Some applause.

Zach November 27, 20125:24 PM

Question from a community member: “Have you given any consideration to the Hamlin(?) Street property?”

Zach November 27, 20125:23 PM

More from Prof. Bachner: “I am fundamentally disturbed by the idea that this is the right solution. I don’t think it will draw students to Main Street any better. I think it’s a potentially tacky gateway to downtown.” Audience members snap in agreement.

Zach November 27, 20125:23 PM

Prof. Bachner argues that this development “will take away from businesses on Main Street” and therefore contradicts the idea of “synergy” that Centerplan keeps mentioning.

Zach November 27, 20125:22 PM

Professor Bachner is now speaking, really passionately: “I’ve lived in lots of different urban areas — New York, Boston, New Haven, Portland, Oregon. There are different kinds of ‘business.’ Not all traffic means you’re ‘vibrant.’ It’s not just ‘everybody’s out grabbing lunch.'”

Zach November 27, 20125:21 PM

“There is a traffic issue on this side,” admits Project Manager. “That’s obvious. The question is how to resolve that.” Hard to hear the rest of his comment.

Zach November 27, 20125:20 PM

“I don’t buy the idea that this will bring Wesleyan closer to downtown,” says an adult community member. “I just have to tell you, it’s all connected.”

Zach November 27, 20125:19 PM

CEO of Centerplan uses the Yale bookstore as an example and says that’s analogous to what they’re proposing. Advice for developers: never compare Wes to Yale while talking to Wes. Or Yale.

Zach November 27, 20125:18 PM

“The nooks or the kindles or the iPads or what have you…” lol.

Zach November 27, 20125:18 PM

Professor Schatz finally notices me typing away behind him. Hi, Professor Schatz!

Zach November 27, 20125:17 PM

Plus, “It won’t be ours to operate; it’ll be ours to collect rent.” (High five!) (Not really.)

Zach November 27, 20125:17 PM

Mr. Centerplan says there’s a changing idea of a bookstore, “they become a place to have an experience more than just buying books” (I’m paraphrasing” and “that’s part of the retail’s challenge to make any bookstore work.”

Zach November 27, 20125:16 PM

First student comment comes from Marj Dodson ’13: “As a student here, I haven’t bought a single book from the bookstore. We’re moving away from the idea of a bookstore. So basing this on the idea that students will buy books from the bookstore is a little problematic.”

Zach November 27, 20125:15 PM

Same commenter: “If Wesleyan’s not part of the equation, there’s still equal vacant square footage on Main Street for you to move forward with this project.” CEO of Centerplan says he doesn’t know what’s vacant on Main Street.

Zach November 27, 20125:14 PM

Question from a community member: “There’s about equal square footage that’s vacant on Main Street. Why not have the bookstore there, skip this idea of ‘linkage’?”

Zach November 27, 20125:13 PM

CEO of Centerplan says that’s a planning issue and that they “will consider it.”

Zach November 27, 20125:13 PM

Comment from an alum: “My name is Andrew Watt. I am a graduate of Wesleyan, class of ’02. And I live on Pearl Street.” Talks about studying urban areas and cites parking across from Russell House. “Russell House and Wash. Street are two of this city’s 200-year-old corridors. These are the things that have made Middletown successful. And your building is pulled back from the street. Can it come up to the street so it represents the urban fabric you say it is?”

Zach November 27, 20125:11 PM

If Wesleyan decides not to move the bookstore, will this project still go forward? Centerplan responds: “It will probably go forward with a two-floor building, not a three-floor building.”

Zach November 27, 20125:11 PM

Community member shouts out something about a previous car accident: “I heard her head sound like a watermelon when it hit the curb.” CEO of Centerplan ignores this.

Zach November 27, 20125:10 PM

The same commenter responds: “Main Street runs in the opposite direction. Washington Street runs east/west.” The Centerplan dude says, “I’ve crossed Main Street thousands of times in the past 15 years.”

Zach November 27, 20125:10 PM

Another adult male voice pipes in: “I want to bring this back to the safety of Washington Street. When you go down Washington Street in the afternoon, when the sun goes down, you’re just completely blind.” CEO of Centerplan points out he drives on Main Street other day.

Zach November 27, 20125:09 PM

CEO of Centerplan: “I think that’s a fair point.” But mentions he goes to Dunkin Donuts and Javapalooza — “I go to all of them. And all of the coffee shops do well. It’s a legitimate point, but I don’t know if it’s a part of the discussion this afternoon.” More hands shoot up.

Zach November 27, 20125:08 PM

Another adult community member speaks up: “My concern is bringing in national chains, bringing in food service — my worry is that might detract from really great local businesses on Main Street.” (Cue round of applause from many audience members.)

Zach November 27, 20125:08 PM

CEO pipes up: “From our point of view, bringing Wesleyan into the Main Street corridor is beneficial to the community.”

Zach November 27, 20125:07 PM

Jason Schatz ’14: “Wesleyan has a personal history with branding.” (References the Admissions’ website’s “Are You Wesleyan?” brouhaha from 2009.) “What elements of the brand do you want to emphasize?”

Zach November 27, 20125:06 PM

Jason Schatz ’14, WSA rep, speaks up: “If we want it to be as close to the Main Street as possible, frankly I think we should leave the bookstore where it is.” Centerplan says the new location will be visible and available to “folks in and outside of Wesleyan community.”

Zach November 27, 20125:06 PM

An unidentified community member speaks up, says it will become more congested. CEO replies: “I hope it becomes more congested! We want people to come.” Lots of groans in the audience.

Zach November 27, 20125:05 PM

Responding to parking concerns, CEO of Centerplan says “I’m guessing 90 or 100 parking spaces will be available on site.”

Zach November 27, 20125:04 PM

“I go to Eli’s Cannon. And I go to O’Rourkes. And I cross Washington Street every time I do that.” Translation: “I’m still alive, so it can’t be dangerous, right?”

Zach November 27, 20125:03 PM

CEO of Centerplan responds to Professor Hill and explains the concept of a Walk/Don’t Walk signal. Thanks, Centerplan. “We all live in an urban environment. This is not sprawl.”

Zach November 27, 20125:03 PM

Professor Hill: “Increasing traffic is a nightmare, frankly.”

Zach November 27, 20125:02 PM

My thesis advisor, Patricia Hill, speaks: “My main concern about this project is the location. That intersection is already congested. Crossing Wash. Street is dangerous. I was horrified to hear the idea that children might be drawn across the street in greater numbers to the bookstore.”

Zach November 27, 20125:02 PM

Opening the floor to comments. At least 10 hands shoot up.

Zach November 27, 20125:01 PM

Claims this development will service not only Middletown, but also “the region, in a very real way.”

Zach November 27, 20125:01 PM

Interesting statement: “We love real estate. We love building things. But whenever you do that, you put that out in the world and the world criticizes you. But we enjoy that.”

Zach November 27, 20125:00 PM

Says that one of the flaws of Middletown is the “disconnect.” That’s why we need “linkage.” More “linkage” makes Middletown more better.

Zach November 27, 20125:00 PM

“The second concept of linkage is Wesleyan itself. And I would never presume to know what’s best for you all, and that’s why you’re here today,” says CEO of Centerplan.

Zach November 27, 20124:58 PM

Do all developers use the words “linkage” and “synergize” this much?

Zach November 27, 20124:58 PM

The CEO of Centerplan is speaking again, and points out that the folks who own these homes — some of the ones that will be demolished — have not chosen to make investments in their residential use. Also, it’s not the business center of Middletown.

“It is truly, in my view, a potential location that creates linkage between the central location and the Washington Street corridor.”

Zach November 27, 20124:54 PM

Architect: “The site is pretty steeply sloped, and we’re developing an architecture that relates to that.” Admits: “Yes, we are taking down some historic structures. And as I’ve long said, we don’t live in Venice.”

Zach November 27, 20124:52 PM

Jeff Biano, the architect behind the project, is now speaking and showing blueprints of the building.

Zach November 27, 20124:51 PM

Developer is touching on sustainability and says “the theme around this project is to be environmentally friendly.” Now saying that they plan to “break ground in the Spring of 2014.”

Wait, correcting himself. Spring of 2013.

Zach November 27, 20124:50 PM

Spotted: Ron Schatz, Professor of History, fan of Connecticut record stores.

Zach November 27, 20124:49 PM

The goal, in developer’s terms: “To create a building that will really fit in with the surrounding environment. I’m personally not a fan of these buildings that try to make a crazy statement that people are really scratching their heads about.”

Zach November 27, 20124:47 PM

Now he’s about to go over the “nuts and bolts” (loving the cliches) of the project. Says some of the buildings on the site are really in disrepair.

Zach November 27, 20124:46 PM

“We are really open and receptive to your comments . . . so that we can respond to those,” says Mr. Developer. “The first step is to kind of open that dialogue.”

Zach November 27, 20124:45 PM

Okay, these are the good reasons, according to the developer:

1) “You have the opportunity to really create a modern, state-of-the-art bookstore on a level that is on par with other universities.”
2) “Certainly enhancing the offerings of the bookstore — allowing it to have digital merchandise.”
3) “Having it be a social hub — another hub on the campus environment to provide that platform for communal interactions.”

Zach November 27, 20124:43 PM

Plan is to “really create a center of gravity for students to mingle and socialize and add some energy to Washington Street,” says the developer. “We actually think there are a couple of really good reasons to [relocate the bookstore].”

Zach November 27, 20124:42 PM

Counting at least four faculty members I’ve taken classes with at this forum just makes me feel old.

Zach November 27, 20124:42 PM

“…But it became clear to us that just a simple retail location is not really doing justice to the opportunity we have here. [ . . . ] How do we add something to this program to make something we can all be proud of?”

Zach November 27, 20124:41 PM

“We thought there were certain retailers users who were interested in Main Street and Wash. Street,” explains the PA. So we began to think about how to put a project together with certain nationals…”

Zach November 27, 20124:40 PM

Students are still streaming in and filling up the aisles. Spotted in the front row is WSA President Zach Malter ’13.

Zach November 27, 20124:39 PM

“Our plan is to move Centerplan Developments into this building, as well as it being the home of some retailers — and Wesleyan’s bookstore.” Now he’s introducing his colleague, the project manager (I think?).

Zach November 27, 20124:37 PM

“We’re neighbors and we’re part of the [Middletown] community, and we intend to be that for a long time,” says Centerplan CEO, referencing their developing the building where Mondo is on Main Street.

Zach November 27, 20124:36 PM

The CEO says he’s spent a good portion of his life in public service and “understands many of the concerns firsthand.”

Zach November 27, 20124:35 PM

Spotted: Demetrius Eudell, Professor of History and African-American Studies.

Zach November 27, 20124:34 PM

Centerplan: “Because of the nature of Wesleyan asking us to join them in an investigation of whether or not to relocate your bookstore to our site, it became public earlier than is typical for us. We don’t have much to present in specifics.”

Zach November 27, 20124:34 PM

CEO of Centerplan Companies is now speaking and says he will introduce the project manager, who is the “key person who’s going to work on this assignment,” as well as the architecture from Middletown.

Zach November 27, 20124:33 PM

Attendees are still streaming in. Every seat is full, and students are standing up at the back of the room.

Zach November 27, 20124:32 PM

Nate Peters is opening the discussion and making one brief comment: a reminder that “Wesleyan has not made any decision at this time regarding the bookstore or what will happen to the existing building. What we’re looking for is your input.”

Zach November 27, 20124:31 PM

More students filing in, as well as Professor of English Sally Bachner. Nearly every seat in PAC 001 is filled — that’s fuller than any montly WESU meeting I’ve attended in this room.

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  • Elise Springer

    I wish Centerplan had shown us a map-style representation of their plan, not just a mock-up drawing of the building. Only then will we understand its scale in the neighborhood, how much of the property immediately across from Russell House would be just a flat parking lot, etc.

  • Elise Springer

    The consequence is: people traveling eastbound (downhill) on 66 who want to stop at this development need to drive past it and wait in the left lane at the Pearl St. stoplight (where opposing traffic can’t see them at sunset). How much would this increase the incidents of gridlock — and lack of first responder vehicle passage — at Pearl Street and/or High street as traffic backs up at rush hour?

  • Elise Springer

    Working in the north side of Russell House, as I pointed out, means hearing lots of accidents at the 66/High intersection. But my question to Centerplan was about their plans for traffic. The reply was: one entrance on Pearl near corner (note only the corner plot currently has compatible zoning), and entrance-exit on Rt 66 *only* for westbound (uphill) traffic. No crossing over from or to the other side of Rt 66. Further, they insisted that Pearl and 66 would become a four-way-red-light pedestrian intersection, like 66 & Main.

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  • Pat Tully

    I attended the forum last night. Zach, you’ve done a great job documenting many of the concerns expressed; thank you! But some of the comments (like mine!) that you’ve attributed to Middletown residents were in fact made by Middletown residents who are also members of the Wesleyan community. Wesleyan as well as the broader Middletown community was well represented at the meeting.

    • Thanks for this. I tried to use ‘community member’ as a vague enough term to apply both to Middletown residents and Wesleyan staff (and both), since it was often impossible to identify everyone who was speaking in real time. Apologies if anyone was misidentified.

  • Zach,thanks for live blogging. Away in Utah on business and I was able to follow the forum. I’m heartened by the opposition, and I hope Wes admin, the developer, they mayor and the Chamber got the message.

  • alum

    Not only should Wesleyan NOT move its bookstore, it should fight tooth and nail to stop this ill-conceived development from being built. All it will do is cause the great local businesses to close and turn Middletown into a generic strip mall-type town where the economics of the city are at the whim of national corporations. THe developer believes in competition? A national chain vs. a local business is not a fair fight in terms of economies of scale, profit, etc. and I’m sure that many people would pay a small premium towards local business. The problem is that a national chain could take away enough business that it would force the local ones to close. Mayor Drew should be ashamed.

  • Zach,

    As an alumnus and Middletown resident who could not attend today’s meeting, I cannot thank you enough for your diligence in live blogging this event. _THANK YOU_

    • But does it count as a service hour?