$350K study to look at downtown development

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Economic development and affordable housing opportunities, potential for pedestrian and transportation facility infrastructure improvement, and transportation links to major sites of potential employment will be explored at the stations and their environs.

Partners have reached out to local civic leaders in a series of three meetings, with the last scheduled for Dec. 6, to find out more about existing conditions in their communities, including current land use, zoning regulations, transportation conditions and existing plans and studies. In the focus groups, community members were asked to identify the level of physical suitability of their area for transit-oriented development, whether developers would be interested in working in their area, whether the public would be interested in development and whether there is sufficient leadership in place to move projects forward.

Tom Jost, senior urban strategist at Parsons Brinckerhoff and a project consultant, said the partners are examining each area individually because conditions vary from one community to the next.

“Your community is going to be different than the next community over,” he said. “Every single one of these communities has a different set of things that they are trying to achieve.”

Leaders of several different communities said they think development around train stations, which could include construction of offices and housing developments, could strengthen the economy and vitality of local neighborhoods.

Members of the Baldwin Civic Association, led by their 19-year-old president, David Viana, said they believe the area needs revitalization and have started a Facebook page to promote the idea. Representatives of the 130-member group told county planners that there are areas in the hamlet that are physically suitable for development, and they would like to receive funding to move forward with projects.

Karen Montalbano, the civic group’s business committee chairwoman, said members of the group see a need for improvement to keep people interested in living in a diverse community like Baldwin, rather than moving to larger surrounding neighborhoods.

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