Friday, April 4, 2014

Talking Points from Town Council Emmons Street Discussion

The following are the talking points presented by Executive Director Lisa Piana to the Town Council at the 7:00 p.m. meeting on April 2:

Message from the FDP Board to the Town Council -- April 2, 2014

The Partnership Board of Directors recently sent a letter to the Town Council recommending that they give the community time to further develop concepts for the Emmons Street property. We also recommended that the Town Council evaluate the potential traffic and parking issues prior to sending out an RFP.

We believe there is no downside to inviting the community to participate in the process. We think Franklin has some very talented residents who could offer some creative solutions.

The March 4th workshop was a great start, and we appreciated being invited to participate, but many of us were under the impression that there would be time to further develop ideas and research funding possibilities.  

We feel that there is no rush to sell this property, since we believe the land will only increase in value once the streetscape project is completed.

We understand that a few Town Council members want to sell the property as quickly as possible. However, we feel that there are 5 key questions that still need to be answered prior to putting out an RFP:  
  1. What are the specific long-term goals for this property?
  1. What is the plan for where businesses will park during the construction project?
    1. Businesses have been told for the last year that parking would be available at the Emmons Street property.
    2.  When Main Street is under construction, there needs to be a place for people to park.

  1. How will losing the 50 parking spaces on this property affect downtown businesses?
    1. It is important to be proactive and plan for the future parking needs and growth of the downtown.
  1. What will the new traffic patterns be after the streetscape project and the two-way traffic pattern is implemented?

  1. What state funding is available in the town considers a cultural center and greenspace?
    1. We have been told that there may be state funding available.
    2. We think it would be in the town’s best interest to pursue these options before deciding to sell the property.

The town is so fortunate to own this Gateway property. We have a chance to really put something special on Emmons Street.

Something special means different things to different people. One of the reasons the Partnership Board wrote the letter to the Town Council was because of some of the commercial ideas that were being talked about. When the developer started talking about a drive-thru coffee shop and a drive-thru drycleaners, we started to get calls and e-mails.

One of the concerns is that if the town loses control of this property and the wrong commercial business gets built, we could see traffic back-ups all the way to the Davis Thayer School.

The Partnership Board of Directors would like to recommend that the Town Council give the community time to work together with the Council, Jeff Nutting and the Planning Department to further develop ideas and research funding options.

We also ask the Council to take the time needed to answer the important questions that I just mentioned. Once these questions are answered, we believe the community will feel more comfortable with the final plan for this property.

We feel that the more ideas, facts and knowledge the town has, the better the final outcome will be for this important “Gateway” property.

Thank you.