Barrington officials were taken on a virtual tour of the downtown shopping district recently, as consultants displayed plans for a series of improvements to the roads and walkways.
The presentation marked the latest proposed changes in a decades-old plan to improve the downtown shopping area. The town has already completed a number of changes, including upgrades to County Road and Maple Avenue, but during the recent meeting consultants from Birchwood Design Group and Surface Matters shared visions for continued improvements.
The work was separated into four phases.
• The first phase focuses on signs — vehicle, pedestrian and bike path signs — that would be installed in different areas of the shopping district. The plan also included some improvements to the sign kiosk located along the bike path near the Barrington Shopping Center.
John Seeley, from SurfaceMatter Design, said the kiosk is currently underutilized and would better serve people if it was slightly renovated to include a map of the downtown shopping district. The map, Mr. Seeley said, would make it easier for visitors to find a place to eat or some other intended destination.
The cost for the first phase: $53,100.
• Phase II included improvements to Wood and Maple Avenues. On Wood, a new sidewalk would be created on the west side of the road while a bike path would be added on the east side. The bike path would allow for a better connection between the town hall and library and the East Bay Bike Path.
Some plans also showed a new roadway connecting the parking area behind Rite Aid with the Shaw’s Supermarket lot.
Other work from the second phase includes new sidewalks on Maple Avenue, curbing, new trees and street lighting.
The cost for the second phase: $590,000.
• Phase III promises streetscape improvements on West Street and Cottage Street. The West Street plans may be the most attractive part of the project — renderings show a reconstruction of the parking area outside Vienna Bakery. In place of the current asphalt slab would be an outdoor dining area, parking spaces, new trees and sidewalks.
The Cottage Street work would be similar, transforming asphalt parking near Trendy’s Pizza into outdoor dining space, new sidewalks and raised crosswalks.
The cost for the third phase: $543,000.
• The final phase focuses upon Waseca Avenue improvements and would comprise the most extensive work of the project. New sidewalks, crosswalks, street lights, new trees and planting beds and granite curbing.
The cost of the fourth phase: $497,000.
Town officials appeared pleased with the plans, but concerned about the costs associated with the work. Geoff Grove, a member of the town’s appropriations committee, tried to address that issue when he asked if the recently approved $4 million road bond money could be used to cover the cost of the downtown improvements.
Barrington Town Manager Peter DeAngelis said he believed it could.
“We’re talking about general road improvements,” Mr. DeAngelis added.
Before agreeing to any concrete work plans, however, Mr. DeAngelis urged the council to further discuss the improvements with residents and business owners. The council obliged — a workshop will be held in the near future.