Monday, December 9, 2013
By Leslie Bridgers firstname.lastname@example.org
Westbrook in 2021 will have more businesses along Bridgton Road, more ways to walk and bike downtown and more educational opportunities for the city's multicultural community -- if all goes as planned.
After a 15-month process, a task force has completed the latest draft of the city's comprehensive plan, outlining 10-year goals for land use, housing, transportation and recreation.
Task force members say it looks a lot like the last plan, written in 2001. "There isn't drastic change suggested," said City Councilor Michael Foley, a member of the group.
The changes were made largely to better reflect the demographics of the city now and in the next decade.
Although Westbrook's population growth is expected to slow, the number of cultures and languages represented is expected to grow, so the plan calls for more social and educational services to accommodate non-native English speakers.
With the lowest rents in the area, Westbrook has many multi-family homes that are poorly maintained. The comprehensive plan calls for rehabilitation of those properties, and says the city will need 250 new rental units in the next decade to accommodate population growth.
Main Street, the plan says, has a good mix of residential and retail uses. The plan says a similar concept should be applied to Bridgton Road -- part of Route 302 -- where business development should be more compact.
On Route 302, near Windham, and Route 25, near Portland, the plan calls for a more uniform building line to improve the look of those gateways to the city.
Throughout Westbrook, connections between recreational and open spaces can be improved, as can pedestrian and bicycle paths to the downtown, the plan says. It also calls for a more walkable downtown, including an extension of the riverwalk to the north side of the Presumpscot River.
None of the concepts in the plan is new, Foley said, and many were in the last comprehensive plan.
Before 2000, the city had something similar to a comprehensive plan, but it wasn't complete and hadn't been updated since the 1970s, said state Rep. Ann Peoples of Westbrook. "We just grabbed that and started from scratch," she said.
This time, she said, "there has not been a lot of wholesale rewriting."
Still, it was a worthwhile process, said Dick Daigle, facilities director for Idexx Laboratories and another member of the task force.
"It really strengthens a lot of the existing beliefs of the city," he said.
Public meetings on the plan will be scheduled in the coming months. Eventually, the plan will need approval from the City Council and the state to be adopted.
Mayor Colleen Hilton, a task force member, said public input gathered early in the planning process showed that among various groups in the city, "there are a lot of similarities in what we all want."
Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: