Westerly Planning Board will focus on downtown marketing; North End Also Mentioned As Zone of Opportunity | West

WEST – One of the first steps towards implementing the measures to be taken in the new revised master plan will see the planning council focus on further economic development of the downtown area.

Authorities have decided to prioritize the city center over the Route 1 area based on recent activity in both locations. City planner Nancy Letendre, at the June 15 council meeting, said the lack of activity in the open and vacant spaces along the Highway 1 corridor reflects current conditions.

“Developers don’t build. If they did, we wouldn’t be doing that, we would be looking at development apps,” Letendre said.

Letendre also said she believed a federal COVID-19 relief bill as well as President Biden’s proposed infrastructure bill would both make funds available for potential revitalization projects in the city. the city center.

“Our downtown is very unique – it’s at the intersection of the ocean and the river and has rail service. Old New England downtown, there is so much there- low, ”Letendre said.

In early June, the Planning Council held a joint meeting with the Economic Development Commission to discuss the downtown area and the Highway 1 corridor. One of the conclusions of the meeting included the need to build on recent successes in the city center.

Tabitha Harkin, a planning council member who works as a town planner in Groton, asked if the city is engaging in marketing focused on economic development and suggested that a staff member dedicated to economic development could deliver results.

Letendre said she was not aware of any dedicated marketing efforts since 2015, but said new members of the Economic Development Commission hoped to facilitate marketing.

“The economic development and culture of the city as a place of welcome and stay have not been a priority for a very long time,” Letendre said.

Letendre said that she and senior planner Alyse Oziolor are now fulfilling certain economic development functions through their work with the Planning Council and EDC.

After meeting with a representative from Greater North End Community Development, a neighborhood association focused on the city’s North End, Letendre asked the board to consider having two of its members serve as liaison officers for the city. work in the North End. The North End, Letendre said, could benefit from targeted efforts to attract specific businesses such as a market, cafe or convenience store. A few more such businesses could help uplift the Pierce Street neighborhood and build a sense of community, she said.