Kent takes a good look at Main Street
Kent businessman John Casey wants to make his town more pedestrian friendly with improved sidewalks, calmed traffic flow and infrastructure aesthetics to match the village center's architecture.
Casey and others are providing possibilities for Kent residents to consider via the Streetscape Committee.
The firm of Milone & MacBroom has been hired to design a new streetscape for Main Street (Route 7) and the entrance into it.
"We're not trying to guild a lily," Casey said. "We're trying to make the town center serviceable, compliant with ADA requirements to make it easier for people walking down the street."
"This is not a lipstick proposal," he added, "to make the town look better. It never was. We're not trying to turn Kent into Westport."
Last week, Milone & MacBroom senior vice president Vincent McDermott made a presentation in Kent outlining possibilities and asking for more resident input.
Among his suggestions to calm traffic are narrowing the travel lane for vehicles by adding a painted/textured median island along the middle of Main Street -- and/or creating curb extensions with rain garden plantings for aesthetics.
"We give drivers 12-foot travel lanes and grab some of that shoulder for landscaping," McDermott said, "get street trees lining the roadway along Route 7 and Route 341 as they enter the commercial center of town."
Textured curb extensions could define crosswalks, he noted, giving pedestrians more visibility for passing motorists.
To move visitors to the shops and services north of the railroad tracks, street parking could be extended there, with sidewalks.
A new treatment to the railroad crossing could be added, including bollards defining the pedestrian walkway with a neutral-colored textured warning strip.
Sidewalk treatments were presented in ascending order by price: washed or polish finished concrete; pavers; brick; granite; and blue stone.
McDermott recommends concrete. He noted pavers would provide a "greener" treatment, as they would allow for rain infiltration. However, pavers are more expensive.
"You're a unique community," McDermott said. "Maybe you want to give us a range of materials that we can use in various areas to provide accent. You tell us, `We like this,' and we will budget it out for you and give you choices."
Kent residents are encouraged to speak with Streetscape Committee members and share their thoughts.
By October, McDermott and his team will meet with state Department of Transportation officials because routes 7 and 341 are state highways.
A preliminary opinion of construction costs will be prepared for a final meeting with the Streetscape Committee.