It’s pretty much what you thought would happen: once you left Middletown for spring break, things got interesting. The ongoing saga over the proposed Washington Street commercial development entered a new phase of visibility when community activists, parents, children, professors, and students took to Wash and High St. for an hour yesterday afternoon, cycling around the intersection to present their opposition to the potential development to motorists.
Wesleyan’s institutional involvement in the decision opened with a proposal to move Broad Street Books to the new complex, if built. Though the bookstore plans were quickly canceled due to a chilly reception from the Wes community and Middletown, the administration is still contracted to sell its property in the area to the developer, Centerplan.
Below, see some interviews featuring Jen from Kid City ’88 (hello!) and Maggie Masselli ’16 (hi!), as well as footage of walk-signal coordinated crossings. More information after the jump; comments, corrections, and points of information welcomed.
More than a few familiar faces were at the protest, which was organized by Ed McKeon and the aforementioned Jen Alexander of Kid City. I recognized more than one frequent area activist, along with Elise Springer, professor of Philosophy and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies – with daughter in tow – and perennial campus fixture Bill Carbone ‘GRAD and son. I can’t overemphasize how many kids were at the protest; kids hopping, skipping, and jumping across the street every other red light drew attention to the safety concerns of parents and community members at large.
At the moment, the key action by the Middletown Planning and Zoning Commission that could decide the fate of the neighborhood around the intersection is a zone change requested by Centerplan that, if Wesleyan sells its property, would allow for the complex Centerplan (and Mayor Dan Drew) hope to build. The Commission meets tomorrow, Wednesday, at 7 P.M., to decide whether to accept or reject the proposed change.
I mentioned earlier that Wesleyan was still involved in the likelihood of the new development’s realization. That’s because Wesleyan still owns a property in the area, and there’s still the possibility of some other Wesleyan-related space being relocated to (or newly established) in the development. From a previous post:
Of course, that’s not to say the controversial Washington Street development won’t move forward as planned without Wesleyan’s participation. It will just be smaller—a two-floor building instead of three. […]
Wesleyan, of course, is still under contract to sell one of its Washington Street properties to Centerplan. According to [Andrew Trexler ’14, WSA Finance and Facilities Chair], faculty presented some opposition to this sale in the form of a resolution at [a December] meeting. “We’re under contract, which has legal implications,” Trexler adds, “so if we renege on it, there could be consequences—or there may not be.”
If you’re interested in joining the opposition from the Middletown community, the facebook group “No Strip-Mall. No Wrecking Ball.” may be the destination you’re looking for.