Developer Peddles Downtown Bike Study

The developer who wants to transform the Post Road area near Corbin Drive with a mixed-use development wants the town to back a preliminary evaluation of ways to make bicycling and walking downtown safer.

David Genovese of Baywater Properties appeared before the Board of Selectmen Monday night to ask the town to partially fund hiring Portland, Ore.-based Alta Planning & Design to conduct a public workshop to look at ways to improve access to the tightly packed downtown.

Since proposing a project including 73,000 square feet of retail space, 98,000 square feet of office space and 133,000 square feet of apartment space this summer, a common request from residents contacting the developer has been to improve access to the downtown.

Preparation for the project, including property acquisitions, has been in the works for nearly a decade for Baywater Properties. Genovese said the study would cost about $15,000.

“One of the things we’ve heard is if we’re making the downtown better we should make the downtown more accessible and especially safer for children,” Genovese said.

In a brief presentation, Tom Tavella, a senior design associate for Alta Planning & Design, said the workshop and evaluation would identify low-cost options such as painting bicycle lanes on congested downtown streets as well as potential paths in and around the downtown.

“A lot of times we can narrow lanes down to 11 feet and do a bike lane,” he said.

First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said she wants Genovese to work with the town’s recently formed Pedestrian Infrastructure Advisory Committee for more input before a decision is made.

“I want to be very sensitive to the fact that they are driving the bus here,” Stevenson said.

The board held off on approving several requests by Town Harbormaster Tom Bell to authorize police to impose $175 for boaters who violate the no-wake zone in Darien Harbor and rafting by more than three boats at a mooring.

Bell said the fines are needed to combat two safety issues in Darien Harbor, speeding and to crack down on crowding caused by the sharing of mooring permits.

The town will research what fines neighboring towns impose for those violations before making a decision, Stevenson said.

Bell said the sharing of permits is unfair to the nearly 100 town residents on a waiting list for moorings, who face an average wait time of more than four years. The board referred another proposed ordinance change by Bell to the Representative Town Meeting to craft language to authorize the revocation of mooring permits if the boat registered to a mooring isn’t tethered to it by June 15.

“I would like it more spelled out in terms of the definition of how you use a mooring or who can use a mooring so everybody knows you can’t let a friend use a mooring,” Bell said. “If you’re not using a mooring you need to get out.”

In advance of the town’s budget season starting in the new year, Stevenson said she wants town departments to limit spending increases in operational budgets to 2 percent or less.

This winter, the town’s Representative Town Meeting approved a Board of Selectmen budget that limited spending increases for town government to a total of less than 1 percent after extensive efforts to slow town spending increases.

“I didn’t get the sense there was a great deal of pain associated with that exercise or actually following through with the budget after that,” Stevenson said.