The residents of Washington street and several student bands want you to know:
There is going to be a party on Washington Street tomorrow afternoon! We have got a whole lot of music coming–there will be two stages divided between Farm House and Buddhist House, and 15, that is right, 15 acts between the two. Tomorrow is 72 degrees, and sunny, pretty perfect for some outdoor music.
2:00 Deep Future
2:30 Anaphylactic Shock
3:15 Featherwood Bee
4:00 Sky Bars
4:45 New School
5:30 Lets Party Hats! Hats! Hats!
After some lengthy discussion, the Middletown Planning and Zoning Commission has unanimously approved zoning text changes first submitted by representatives of Centerplan Company, now with substantial amendments. The room was once again packed with members of the public, including many students, faculty, and staff from Wesleyan.
The newly amended changes, in the eyes of the Commissioners, affords the P&Z greater authority to exercise oversight upon actual submitted proposals for development.
As these new changes alter the nature of special exceptions in MX Zones (which include the relevant section of Washington Street), Centerplan will now have to submit a development proposal to the P&Z for a special exception to go forward with their planned development (sans bookstore and in the face of continued opposition by the public). Yes, there will be another public hearing.
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.
In case you somehow missed it, there has been a lot of talk since last semester about a proposed development that could find itself right next to Wesleyan’s campus on Washington Street, between High and Pearl. For those who have strong interest and/or opinions about this topic, Middletown’s Planning and Zoning Commission is holding a public hearing on Wednesday, February 27th at 7 p.m. that will address two zone-change proposals that could either allow or prevent this development from happening.
Specifically, the hearing will address the developers’ zoning code text amendment proposal — which would allow for more commercial development on Washington Street to go forward — and that of avid opponent to the development Ed Mckeon, which would make the zone under consideration become eligible for residential use only, thus preventing the development from going forward. More information about the two zone change proposals can be found here, but disregard the original pre-Nemo hearing date.
If you want to attend and/or testify at the hearing, here is some important information:
What: Middletown Planning and Zoning Commission Public Hearing on proposed zoning code text amendments Where: 245 DeKoven Drive, Council Chambers (in City Hall) When: February 27th at 7 p.m. If you plan on testifying: try to arrive before 7 p.m., and bring at least one printed copy of your testimony. You will only be given a couple minutes to deliver it, so make it concise.
For extensive reporting on all things Washington Street Development, check out the links after the jump (provided by the WSA).
Remember that proposed commercial development on Washington Street that everyone got all worked up about last semester? Thought it was doomed when Wesleyan pulled out of the project, opting not to relocate its bookstore?
Think again. According to the Courant, dueling zone change requests have been filed for the neighborhoods surrounding Wesleyan, including that strip on Washington Street where the development would be located. Both seek to change portions of the “mixed-use” and “institutional” development zoning regulations. One of the requests comes from Centerplan developer Robert Landino, who presented the development at an open forum in November and was met with fierce community resistance. The other comes from Pearl Street resident Ed McKeon, an avowed opponent of what he calls a “cookie-cutter strip mall with carbon-copy National Chains.”
As the Courant explains it, Landino’s zone request seeks to permit a building with retail or restaurant space on the first floor, below office or residential spaces:
Attorney Ralph Wilson has filed a request on behalf of Landino, the president of Centerplan Companies who announced preliminary plans in November for a retail development on Washington Street between Pearl and High streets.
On the basis of strong communitysentiment, Wesleyan has decided not to relocate its bookstore to Washington Street. Objections to the bookstore relocation (and planned development) included concerns about pedestrian safety, increased traffic, and disruption of the residential neighborhood. Wesleyan had signed a non-binding agreement with the developer, Centerplan Companies, to give the University the opportunity to discuss the proposal with its community before reaching any conclusions. On November 27, Wesleyan held an open forum on the proposed relocation, and the views of faculty, staff, students and neighbors from Middletown who participated were strongly against the proposal. Wesleyan also sought and received community input on a blog it created about the proposed relocation, and Wesleyan administrators received emails from and held conversations with individuals and campus groups.
According to WSA Finance and Facilities Committee Chair Andrew Trexler ’14, he and WSA Pres Zachary Malter ’13met with Peters and Topshe last week and “conveyed a broad range of student opinion, which was predominantly opposed to the move and the development.”
Middletown to CenterPlan: “I think this is just La La Land!”
Speaking of Tuesday’s open forum regarding the proposed Wesleyan bookstore relocation (liveblog here, additional coverage here), turns out our comrades over at the Middletown Eye managed to film the entire discussion, beginning with a presentation from developers CenterPlan and continuing with a whole barrage of comments from pissed off community members. Thanks, Middletown Eye!
You can check out a “highlight reel” courtesy of the Eyehere. My personal favorite clip, in which a bearded community member begins laughing and then stands up and volunteers to run for office to oppose the development, appears above. “I’ll do that!” he warns. “You watch.” A close second is this one, in which a rather disgruntled longtime Middletown resident Professor of Music Neely Bruce tells the CEO of CenterPlan that he’s living “in La La Land.”
Watch footage of the entire proceedings (it’s about 90 minutes total) below and past the jump. More on the discussion here.
Though Mayor Dan Drew spoke today in approval of the project, saying it would bring new shoppers into Middletown, an editorial in the Middletown Eye by Wesleyan alum and local Wesleyan parent Jen Alexander ’88—originally entitled “Don’t Bring That Horse Inside City Gates,” apparently—thinks just the opposite. She sees the structure as a 10,000 sq. ft behemoth that, with its national chains like Starbucks and Chipotle, would mainly bring people in from the highway and back. Middletown has had a rough history with nationally branded retail; the departure of Sears and Woolworth’s from Main Street many years ago, according to Alexander, led to a long period of blight. Now that Middletown has a rich variety of independent businesses, especially coffee shops like Klekolo, “it would be a shame if Wesleyan—dear, independent, iconoclastic Wesleyan—was the backer that started us back on the road to Anywhereville, after we’ve come so far,” Alexander writes.
Some progress on the creepy case of the skeleton found by Washington Street last week, from the Middletown Press:
Dental records and ID found at the site showed a match for Daniel Reed, a Middletown resident who had reported missing by his family in July, after his roommate last saw him on July 11. The nature and cause of death are still being investigated by MPD. Brr.