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Downtown Derby Update: $5 Million Grant, Important Forum On Changes To Main Street Widening

by Eugene Driscoll | May 16, 2017 4:06 pm

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Posted to: Derby

The State Bond Commission approved a $5 million grant Friday to help Mayor Anita Dugatto’s administration move forward with a new vision for the Derby redevelopment zone.

Specifically, the money will be used to pay for the construction of a “main street grid” within the redevelopment zone, according to a May 12 press release from the Mayor’s Office.

The main street grid refers to how the streets will be arranged within the redevelopment zone.

The redevelopment zone stretches along the south side of Route 34, also known as Main Street, on the shores of the Housatonic River from roughly the Derby-Shelton bridge to the former Lifetouch building and property.

The grid layout was chosen during a collaborative process between the public, the local government, and DPZ Partners, a consulting firm hired by the city using grant money.

“The road will literally lay the groundwork for private development,” Dugatto said in a prepared statement.

The Derby Planning and Zoning Commission endorsed the layout in January.

A conceptual plan presented to Derby planners by Derby Economic Development Director Leslie Creane in January showed a development that could yield 469 residential units, 96,000 square feet of retail, and 66,000 square feet of small manufacturing in the redevelopment zone.

Dugatto’s administration believes Derby’s long-stagnant redevelopment zone will most likely not be developed by a single investor or builder.

That’s a change in philosophy from at least two prior mayoral administrations.

Instead, the city thinks the redevelopment zone will come to life in increments.

“The success of our project does not rely on one large developer with very deep pockets,” Dugatto said in a statement. “While we would certainly welcome that, we are not depending on it — all our eggs will not be in one basket.”

There are signs of life along the south side of Derby’s Main Street.

J&L Enterprises, a limited liability company controlled by Joseph and Louis Salemme, bought the former Lifetouch property at 90 Main St. April 10, according to land records in Derby City Hall.

The purchase price was $250,000.

No formal redevelopment plans for the Lifetouch property have been submitted to Derby City Hall, though the issue was scheduled to be discussed “informally” at a Derby Planning and Zoning Commission meeting scheduled for May 16.

Meanwhile, the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments has scheduled a public information meeting for proposed design changes to the Route 34 widening project.

The Route 34/Main Street widening from the Derby-Shelton bridge to the Route 8 on ramps has been in the planning stages — and often delayed — for years.

The mayor’s office asked for the widening plan to be tweaked after DPZ Partners said the widening project will result in nothing more than a highway in downtown Derby.

The changes to the Route 34 widening project will be discussed — and the public is encouraged to share reactions.

This is a press release from the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments:

Residents, commuters, business owners, and other interested individuals are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to learn about and discuss the proposed modifications to the project.

Oral and Written comments will be accepted at the meeting or may be directed to:

Mark Nielsen, Director of Planning, Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments, 49 Leavenworth Street, Third Floor, Waterbury, Connecticut 06702 . . .

or via email Rt34Comments@nvcogct.org until 4:00 pm on June 21, 2017.

The meeting facility is ADA accessible.

If language assistance is needed, please contact the Department of Transportation’s Office of Communications (voice only) at (860) 594-3062 at least 5 business days prior to the meeting.

Efforts will be made to respond to requests for assistance.

The City of Derby, after huddling with its consulting firm earlier this year, has requested nine changes be made to the Route 34/Main Street widening project.

Those proposed changes are:

1. Inclusion of on-street parking on both sides of Main Street (included in the 2011 PD Plan) with a surface treatment or texture to contrast with the travel lanes

2. 11’ lanes with 2’ shoulders, preferably with a surface treatment or texture to contrast the travel lanes with the shoulders to create a narrowing effect (The 2011 PD Plan has 11’ lanes with 4’ shoulders)

3. Elimination of the dedicated left turn lane from Main Street EB onto Minerva Street. The City accepts that left turns onto Main Street will be prohibited at unsignalized intersections and the median will be continuous at the Minerva Street intersection

4. Reduction in the median to a consistent 8’ from Elizabeth Street to Caroline Street, subsequent to the removal of the aforementioned left turn lane

5. Reduction in the length of the left turn lane from Main Street EB onto Water Street

6. The cycle-track between Bridge Street and Factory Street will be eliminated from the project and relocated in the redevelopment site. The construction of the bicycle facility would no longer be eligible under the Route 34 project

7. Removal of the parking lot at Bridge Street. The gateway park at the Bridge Street corner shall remain in the plan

8. Drop Elizabeth, Minerva, and Caroline streets from the project as the City does not desire a change in circulation and prefers these roads to remain two-way

9. Convert Third Street to one-way as was being proposed for the semi-final design submission.

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