Central Village District possible for Bridgewater
Published 6:56 pm, Monday, July 28, 2014
The town of Bridgewater is taking a closer look at its village center and developing a plan to revitalize its downtown.
The creation of an overlay district within the Village Green Zone is being considered for professional offices, a bed and breakfast, antique shops and other low-impact businesses.
"It would allow a restaurant, bed and breakfast, professional offices without spot zoning," First Selectman Curtis Read said. "It would create a revitalized downtown area with improved market value for the historic buildings there."
Leo Null, Planning & Zoning chairman and town selectman, said the proposal is in the preliminary stages at this point. The commission will begin intensive study of the possibility at its September meeting, with an eye on holding a future public hearing.
"I'm very positive about this. I'm trying to bring some economic potential to the downtown," Null said. "We're looking at the business possibilities as having limited parking. There would never be large retail development with paving for parking in the front. That would never be allowed.
"Our concern now is the vacant spot in the Bridgewater Village Store where the bank pulled out," Null said. "We'd like to see that site stay viable, with a restaurant able to go in with the store and post office."
A $400,000 federal transportation improvement grant was turned down last Friday by Read with the Board of Selectmen's approval. The grant would have funded 80 percent of sidewalk and street improvements.
The rejection of the grant does not mean that selectmen have given up on the first phase of building a loop of sidewalk -- starting at the fairgrounds, running along Main Street to Center Street and around the corner, up Clapboard Road to Hut Hill Road.
"Any way we slice it, the town would have to come up with $100,000 toward the project, and we have other priorities right now," Read said. "We can do the job on our own when the time comes."
The original planning for the sidewalk and street improvements was done in 2007 by the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials, of which Bridgewater is a member.
In March, Read learned that federal funding for the project was approved. But it soon became apparent that any work on the project would be two years out and the town would have to supply the initial $100,000.
"I let the state Department of Transportation and HVCEO know Friday," Read said Monday, "and the engineers that were designing the project."