The Planning Board unanimously endorsed the “connectivity plan” for a multi-million dollar “village center” in Barrington on Tuesday night, Dec. 3.
But at the same time, the board did lay down some conditions and set some priorities for a village center that would be created between Maple Avenue, West Street, Waseca Avenue and Wood Avenue.
The board wants to make sure the village center is connected to the Barrington Shopping Plaza a short distance south – even if it means acquiring some land to do it. And it wants to create public parking on Maple Avenue.
“Those are the missing pieces,” said Mike McCormick, chairman of the Planning Board.
The property and parking issues could involve negotiations for the purchase of land to make that happen. That would drive up the cost from the approximate $2 million price tag put on adding new signs, streetscapes, sidewalks and more convenient and safer parking.
The board set the conditions after hearing from the representatives of the two consulting firms hired by Barrington to create the plan for a village center: Kris Bradner and Ashley Iannuccilli of Birchwood Design Group of Providence and John Seeley of Surface Matter Design.
Seeley briefed the board on the least expensive part of the plan: signage, including two kiosks with maps that would show where to find merchants and recreational opportunities.
For about $55,600, Barrington could get “wayfinding” that gets people off Route 114 and makes the village center visible from the nearlby East Bay Bike Path. Three different types of signs would be erected: vehicle direction, bicycle direction and information maps on the kiosks. That work could be done soon.
Iannuccilli said the other much more expense recommendations break up the village center into five priorities that would be phased in over a longer time period. But each is designed to promote business by getting people into the shopping district through streetscapes that welcome walkers and bikers and make it a “destination.”
The priorities include Maple Avenue, West Street, Wood Avenue, Wood Avenue with the connection to the shopping plaza, Cottage Street and Waseca Avenue.
The Planning Board was adamant that one of the top priorities be Wood Avenue improvements with the connection to the shopping plaza. Two connections were suggested. Each would probably mean acquiring some land.
“We would need to work out an agreement with the property owners for land to make the connection possible,” said Andy Teitz, solicitor for the board. “That could mean condemnation and working out an appropriate price for the land.”
The connection would benefit everyone, said Bradner.
“I think it would improve the plaza by attracting tenants to the empty buildings,” she said.
Bradner said previoiusly that Birchwood has worked on similar projects in Sutton, Mass., and Newport -- the Broadway business district. The firms expect to complete the conceptual stage for a village center in Barrington by the end of this year.