WESTBROOK – When construction is complete to Westbrook Town Center, things might look a little different than some had hoped.
Residents at a Nov. 15 meeting passed a resolution to give permission for AT&T to locate a utility pole and guy pole in front of the Riggio Building, the former town hall, at 1163 Boston Post Road.
Phil Biondo, project manager for the Walgreens and Town Center Improvements said that an AT&T pole located in the middle of Essex Road near the intersection of Essex Road and Boston Post Road had to be relocated for road and sidewalk improvements to take place.
The pole supplies telecommunications service to the Riggio Building and the Wilcox field.
Biondo said has walked the surrounding area with AT&T engineers to look at other possible ways of relocating the pole to another location.
However, Biondo said that certain alternatives would require the re-swinging of several poles.
Biondo said he was unable to get the wire attached directly to the Riggio building which would eliminate the pole.
Members of the Planning Commission, Facilities Manager Loren Baker, and resident Joel Maynard have all expressed concerns about how the pole would affect the appearance of the area.
While the Planning Commission recommended a decorative pole, Biondo said that AT&T instead is looking to put in climbing vines or plants near the pole to naturally camouflage it.
The pole will not require the removal of a nearby large tree, Biondo said, but it will require the tree to be trimmed.
Approval at town meeting was the last approval necessary after Biondo presented before the town’s Board of Selectmen, Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission, Planning Commission, Police Advisory/Traffic Authority Board, State Traffic Commission, and the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
The approval to move the utility pole comes about a month after the Zoning Commission and the Police Advisory/Traffic Authority Board approved several modifications to the original Westbrook Town Green plan.
Original plans called for a very wide four-inch tall center island near Westbrook Deli, “stone dust” sidewalks on the east and west sides of town green and stamped concrete.
Stamped concrete was proposed down the middle of Westbrook Place, at the junction of Essex Road and Westbrook Road, and at the corner of Westbrook Place and Boston Post Road.
According to Oct. 17 meeting minutes, the Zoning Commission had the island near Westbrook Deli removed to improve traffic flow.
Zoning Commission Chairman Robert Hagemeister said at meetings that the “stone dust” sidewalks were not ADA accessible and would be costly to maintain.
Biondo said the original plan did not call for the developer to pay to replace the crumbling concrete sidewalk along Boston Post Road.
He said the developer would pay for concrete sidewalks on all three sides of the green if the stamped concrete component was removed from the project.
The stamped concrete was originally proposed to make the area more aseptically pleasing but Hagemeister highlighted concerns regarding high maintenance costs for snow removal and repairs.
With painted striping, instead of stamped concrete, the state will pay to maintain and snow plow it, Hagemeister said.
When asked about the issue, Catherine Winniger, Chair of the Police Advisory/Traffic Authority Board said “painted striping is the accepted standard for traffic regulation.”
Winniger said the biggest concerns she has heard from residents are centered upon the left hand turn prohibition from Essex Road to Boston Post Road and the removal of parallel parking spaces on Boston Post Road.
Town Center Revitalization Committee Chairman Marilyn Ozols said the Zoning Commission “downgraded a quality project worked out in months of public meetings. It was a disservice to the residents of Westbrook.”
While Bishop acknowledged not everyone was happy with the changes, he said there was a “strong consensus” for them among Zoning Commission members.
The town green project should be near completion in February, Bishop said, adding that the Walgreens is expected to open during that month.