The 174 Brookfield residents and property owners in attendance at Thursday’s special town meeting overwhelming approved hiring a planning consultant to develop a vision for the Town Center District (TCD). When the question was called, a rush of hands went up in favor and only a handful were raised afterward in dissent.
The resolution gives the Board of Selectmen (BOS) approval to hire a consulting firm to lead the planning process for the commercial district surrounding the intersection of Federal Road and Route 25, commonly known as Four Corners. The $75,000 for the consultant will be offset by a grant from the Small Towns Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) for use in developing the Four Corners area.
The development grant is only a portion of . The money was earmarked for “streetscape” improvements to the area, i.e. sidewalks, benches, lighting and parking.
“We can’t begin to install those kind of amenities until we have a clue of what things are going to look like and where things are going to go,” First Selectman Bill Davidson said, explaining the need for a plan.
“Where would you put a parking lot in Four Corners right now?” he asked, “Someone has to figure out where could a parking lot go, how could cars get in and out of there.”
The proposal to use a portion of the grant for a consultant was of this year, 28-32, however Davidson had vowed to bring it back to a second town meeting .
“New England government is supposed to be participatory and tonight it certainly is,” Davidson said of the large crowd that gathered at the high school to vote. “I’ve been to town meetings where there’s two or three people, so this is a delight to see.”
Davidson explained that the “overarching reason” to develop a professional plan for the TCD is “to provide a blueprint to people who want to put money into Four Corners to explain what the town’s expectations are… When developers ask, ‘what are you looking for,’ we need to have a good answer for them.”
With the town meeting’s approval, the BOS can move ahead with selecting a planner. A four-member committee is , which received high praise from the committee and town planners for focusing on the need for public input.