GPA Spurs Plan for Town Center South
In 2004 the Guilford Preservation Alliance sponsored a three-part public forum to jump start community interest in and support for historic preservation and environmentally sound development of Town Center South, the area from the town green south to the marina.
The GPA retained the Yale Urban Design Workshop for a brainstorming session to develop professional and citizen proposals for the area. The first session, in May, 2004, featured a presentation by Alan Plattus, professor at the Yale School of Architecture and founding director of the Yale Urban Design Workshop, entitled ‘Transit-Oriented Development with Emphasis on the Guilford Train Station.” He told some 200 citizens that development should take full advantage of the rail link to other towns along the Connecticut shore and to New York City. And he emphasized the importance of improving pedestrian traffic between the green, the station and the marina.
In June, the GPA held a four-hour community design workshop in which citizens participated with assistance from Yale Workshop personnel. It yielded a wealth of proposals. Among them were:
Plans for new pedestrian paths and bikeways to link existing green spaces, including the former Rollwood Farm across Stone House Lane from the historic Whitfield Museum.
Increased tourist facilities in the train station neighborhood.
Provision of easier pedestrian access to the town’s center and historic district.
Development strategies to open up vistas over water and wetlands.
Screening and locating commuter parking away from Rollwood Farm.
In the final workshop, Professor Plattus presented a synthesis of the ideas generated by both professionals and private citizens. He focused on redevelopment of the area immediately around the train station, and his presentation envisioned medium-density, small-scale, mixed-use residential and commercial development to serve the needs of increased rail-passenger traffic. Implicit in the design was a requirement that the entire Town Center South neighborhood be rezoned to reflect increased commercial and residential uses and environmental concerns, updating 50-year-old zoning regulations.
Meanwhile, the Board of Selectmen established the Town Center South committee under the chairmanship of Sidney F. Gale to begin shaping the future of the area between the East and West Rivers south of Route 146 to the marina. GPA board member Valerie Brown originally represented the GPA on the committee.