Mariners Way Update; Survey Live
An update on the findings of the economic development study of the Route 1 East/Mariner’s Way corridor was given on Nov. 27. A final report will be given in January though a survey is online for the next two weeks.
Mariner’s Way is the name given to a section of town located at the Route One East connector in Old Saybrook between Saybrook Junction’s Town Center and Ferry Point’s Marina District. For nearly a decade, the town has been hoping to develop the area, but with the arrival of COVID-19, attention has been focused on other matters for the last three years.
In an effort to spark the redevelopment of Mariner’s Way, the Board of Selectmen unanimously voted in the summer to appropriate $89,910 to hire Camoin Associates to help development efforts.
At the event held at Old Saybrook Middle School, a few dozen members of the public stuck around after the annual town meeting to hear what the representatives from Camoin had to say. The representatives showed the crowd the work the firm has been doing so far and discussed the market analysis and economic opportunity studies it has been conducting.
In examining the area, the consultants noted some positive attributes of the area, notably its proximity to the highway, train station, and downtown. Additionally, they pointed out that rents and land in the study are comparatively cheaper than other spots of town.
Unfortunately, there were also some aspects of the area that make redevelopment tricky. For one, there are inland wetlands in the area which means any proposed development would have to contend with wetland regulations. While Mariners Way is close to the train station and downtown, a lack of sidewalks makes it a difficult and dangerous walk. There’s a lack of sewers in the area and a lack of publicly owned property which adds a complication to redeveloping the area. The consultants further noted the presence of undermaintained properties in the area as well as a lack of character in the study area.
The representatives had asked people what improvements in the area they would like to see to Mariners Way, and the answers were displayed on the screen. Cleaning up blight and adding sidewalks were the most popular answers displayed on the screen at the meeting.
When it came time to ask what residents were looking for in the area most, the audience voted for housing and restaurants, while others audibly argued against adding housing due to noise and the lack of sewers in the area. Besides housing retail space, lodging, office space, or hybrid industrial space were mentioned as other potential uses. The presenters repeatedly told the crowd these were merely ideas, not finalized proposals for the area.
A survey asking residents their thoughts on the area is available online here.
Dan Stevens, Camoin’s director of real estate development services and one of the speakers at the presentation said, “It was great to see the community turn out to provide input for this important initiative”
“The feedback received from the public meeting along with the input that residents will provide from the community survey will help shape the Boston Post Road East Revitalization Initiative. Combined with the results from the economic and market analysis research, input from town residents will be used to create a strategic action plan to revitalize the corridor in a way that capitalizes on economic opportunities while aligning with the community’s vision for Boston Post Road East,” Stevens continued.
With the public presentation now done, the representatives said that the next step is to identify what goals, strategies, and objectives can be built upon and deliver a final report and presentation in January.
Redeveloping Mainers Way has been a longtime project for the town. Since the area is a gateway to Old Saybrook, bringing new business to the area and eliminating any blight is something town leaders have long desired. Between 2014 and 2019, the town revisited the areas multiple times. In 2014, a study was done, and in 2017, an action plan was developed. In 2019, the town created a tax increment financing district in the area, which created a mechanism to set aside funds to reinvest in the district.
The representatives from Camoin said that while the 2014 plan was focused on what people wanted to see there, the current plan was more focused on economic and market analysis.