Consultant To Present Middletown Riverfront Development Plan

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Text by Shawn R. Beals, Hartford Courant; video by Angelica Spanos, FOX CT

MIDDLETOWN — The city’s hired consultant to help form a riverfront redevelopment plan will make its final presentation to the Middletown Riverfront Redevelopment Committee Monday night.

The committee will meet at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at city hall. Projects for Public Spaces will present its plan on how to use the riverfront in coming years with a mixture of private and public, recreational and residential uses.

“It’s going to reflect the input they received from the community and recommendations on how to proceed based on that input,” said Councilman Gerald Daley, the chairman of the committee.

The consultant held nine focus group meetings and held two public forums in September to collect public input on the types of activities and uses residents want to see at the riverfront.

Within the next few years, the city hopes to have its water treatment center on River Road demolished, which would free up prime waterfront land ripe for economic development. Officials have said they hope to see commercial and residential development supplement public access the riverfront.

“I’m hopeful [the consultant] will emphasize doing something soon, in the spring hopefully,” Daley said.

He said an ideal strategy would include “generating activity there and just sort of building on it, rather than putting an emphasis on the big stuff right away, and taking advantage of the fact that we have a beautiful riverfront to use right now.”

The planning department has been collecting comments and sharing ideas on its Riverfront Middletown Connecticut page on Facebook since June. Deputy Planning Director Michiel Wackers has been posting pictures, documents and examples of riverfront development other communities have done.

Officials said the priority parcels for private development would be the former Omo Manufacturing site and the Jackson Corrugated building, both on River Road.

Environmental cleanup is underway at the Omo property, and last year a local developer submitted a tax incentive application for a $36 million upscale apartment complex where the Jackson Corrugated plant is. The apartment complex application was withdrawn, and developer Martin Smith of Waterhouse Development said the proposal probably came too early in the city’s planning process for riverfront development.

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