The Town Council took another step Monday night, Jan. 6, toward turning the proposal for a “village center” in Barrington into a reality.
The councilors voted 5-0 to set up a workshop with the Planning Board, the Committee on Appropriations and members of the business community in late January or early February to possibly get the proposal into the new budget cycle.
The workshop would look, in particular, at tweaking or fleshing out the design and funding for the four-phase plan that has an estimated price tag of $1.7 million. Town Councilor Bill DeWitt said he would like to see information that demonstrates the return on investment in the village center.
The “village center connectivity” proposal includes the following:
- wayfinding and directional signs for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians;
- rebuilding of the pedestrian kiosk on the East Bay Bike Path next to the Barrington Shopping Plaza;
- new sidewalks on the north side of Maple Avenue and both sides of Waseca Avenue;
- redevelopment of the corners of West Street and Maple Avenue and Cottage Street and Maple Avenue,
- possible new or improved off-street parking to take the place of any parking lost to the sidewalks,
- connection to the Barrington Shopping Plaza, which could mean additional costs for acquiring land.
The Town Council moved the plan forward after a presentation from Kris Bradner and Ashley Iannuccilli of Birchwood Design Group of Providence and John Seeley of Surface Matter Design of Providence.
The consultants were hired by the Planning Board to develop a proposal to boost economic development and activity in the area of town bordered by Maple Avenue, West Street, Waseca Avenue and Wood Avenue with a connection to the Barrington Shopping Plaza across the East Bay Bike Path.
The process has included input already from a “walkabout” last September and several meetings with the Planning Board and one with the Barrington Business Association.
The least expensive part of the plan involves the signage, including the kiosk with a map that would show where to find merchants and recreational opportunities.
For about $53,000, Barrington could get “wayfinding” that gets people off Route 114 and makes the village center visible from the bike path. Signs would include vehicle direction, bicycle direction, street banners and information maps on the kiosks. That work could be done soon.
Iannuccilli briefed the councilors on the other phases of the plan, which have a combined price tag of about $1.65 million. Each phase is designed to promote business by getting people into the shopping district through streetscapes that welcome walkers and bikers and make it a “destination.”
Jean Robertson of the Planning Board, who chaired the subcommittee that has been exploring a “village center,” said the project has been talked about for about 20 years. It is seen as keeping more local shoppers in Barrington while attracting new shoppers from out of town.
“For every dollar spent here,” she said, “there is an estimated creatin of nine dollars in the community."
Bradner said the consultants’ work started with creating a vision for village shopping that includes outdoor spaces for people to eat at, shop at and enjoy that combines trees, lighting, furniture and low-impact design techniques while providing safe circulation for vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles.
Town Manager Peter DeAngelis, who suggested the workshop, described the plan at this point as the “beginning of a public process” that still needs input from businesses and other stakeholders in the process.