July 8, 2020

Chester Town Meeting Approves Long-Range Plan to Guide Main Street Improvements

CHESTER— Voters at a town meeting Tuesday approved a long-range plan to guide improvements to Main Street in the downtown village. About 35 residents turned out for the meeting, approving the plan on a nearly unanimous voice vote after about 40 minutes of discussion.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan told the group the plan, officially called the “Chester Village and Center District Master Plan”, is “a public works project first with some embellishments.” The plan was prepared by an 11-member volunteer committee appointed in late 2011, with assistance from the Kent & Frost engineering consultants of Mystic.

While a preliminary cost estimate of all of the potential improvements that totals $5.49 million drew some questions, Meehan stressed that improvements would be done in phases as funding for the work becomes available. He said many of the improvements would not be completed until late in the decade, while some may never be done depending on decisions by voters at future town meetings. Along with a reconstruction of Main Street with new curbing and sidewalks, the plan also calls for improvements, including better lighting, to town-owned parking lots on Maple Street and Water Street.

Improvements to the core area of Main Street would not begin until after completion of a state Department of Transportation funded replacement of the Main Street bridge over Pattaconk Brook, which is now scheduled to be done in 2016. But Meehan said some of the improvements could begin sooner, possibly next year.

The initial phase as outlined in the plan would be a reconstruction of Main Street from the intersection with Route 154 west to the vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery, a mostly residential section that also passes the Chesterfield’s Health Care Center. The cost estimate for this phase is $1.37 million, a figure that includes a $650,000 contingency Meehan suggested is higher than would likely be funded for the work.

Meehan said the overall plan would help the town apply for and secure additional state grants to help fund later phases. Specific funding appropriations for each phase would require separate town meeting approvals. The town currently has about $750,000 in available funding, including about $500,000 in state grants and about $250,000 in set aside town capital projects funding.
Meehan said the next steps for the plan would be hiring an engineering firm to prepare the initial phase covering the eastern section of Main Street for bid documents. The plan also suggested some of the parking lot improvements could be done before the 2016 bridge replacement.