The Town Center Planning Committee (TCPC) was formed by the Board of Selectmen to develop a master plan for the Town Center, taking into account streetscape design, pedestrian safety, traffic, parking, lighting, utility infrastructure, and historic character. Funds to investigate these improvements were appropriated by Special Town Meeting vote in 2015.
Utile, a Boston-based design and architecture firm, and landscape architects Richard Burck Associates were hired in spring 2016 to work with the Committee to create the master plan.
Public input has been an important part of the planning process. More than 300 people responded to an online survey in the spring, weighing in on what they like and dislike about the Town Center today, and what their priorities are for a redesign. One surprising result was that parking is mostly not perceived as a problem, as shown in the charts below (the second chart reflects responses from people who self-identified as business owners or employees in the Town Center).
The most important thing we learned from the survey is that more than anything else, people want more places to gather in the Town Center, whether it's a nice restaurant where they can have a glass of wine with a friend, or an ice cream shop where teens can hang out, or simply more benches to sit on.
click to enlarge
click to enlarge
The Committee and the design team took the survey feedback to heart, and responded by creating multiple new open spaces that allow for different types of experiences. We brought these ideas to a public charrette on May 25th, when members of the public had an opportunity to learn about the preliminary designs, and draw their own ideas right on the map.
Since the spring, the Utile team has made numerous site visits, presented at five TCPC meetings, and had several additional meetings with stakeholders such as the Weston Department of Public Works and members of the Historical Society. The TCPC and Utile presented to the Board of Selectmen on September 14, followed by a presentation to a joint meeting of the Planning Board and Historical Commission on October 5, and the Finance Committee on October 13. The final step in this phase of the process is Special Town Meeting on November 29th, when residents will vote to fund the final design and engineering for the plan.