Warrenites envision future Water Street


Nearly 50 people came out to the Wharf Tavern Thursday to give their two cents as Warren prepares to spend $810,000 in state funds updating and rehabilitating Water Street.

Last Thursday's public meeting on the project drew residents from across town as town officials led by planner Caroline Wells sought to elicit ideas on how the project should unfold, and what should be done. There were no shortage of ideas about what to do with the money, which comes from the Federal Highway Administration via the DOT.

"There were a lot," she said. "The question is, funding them all."

Some residents want to see the town install benches along Water Street to give walkers a place to sit for a spell. Others want "way-finding" signs, which describe points of interest. Others still want the town to install vintage-style lighting along the street, much as has already been done on Main Street.

Though there were lots of different ideas, there was one over-riding theme, Ms. Wells said: Water Street is special, and should be treated as such.

"They were trying to say that they don't want it to look like Thames Street in Bristol," she said. "Water Street has its own flavor and they want to keep that."

The money will be used not just to do construction work, but also to help develop an action plan to guide that work. Ms. Wells is working with Diprete Engineering and Veri Waterman landscape architects on the project, and the ideas brought to the table last week will be passed on to those firms to help guide their studies. Finalized plans are due back at DOT by the end of June, and Ms. Wells said that right now it looks like construction will take place next year. From here, a group of residents who volunteered last week will work with planning board members and town councilors to formalize the town's goals in the project.

Other ideas and issues that came up Thursday include:

* The possibility of burying street lines along the street, which would be good for aesthetics but likely would be prohibitively expensive.

* Not every section of sidewalk along the route (Main Street to Long Wharf) needs to be torn up, as sidewalks were put in on the street about 12 years ago. However, residents made it clear that any trees that are torn out from sidewalks during the work should be replaced.

* Residents wanted "non-standard" crosswalks, "something individual to Water Street," Ms. Wells said.

* Some residents don't favor the areas of grass that now line various sections of sidewalk, because they tend to get weedy. There was talk that those sections could be changed to be more easy to care for, or less weedy.

* Some said there should be places along the street that would lend themselves to public art.

RIDOT, Water Street


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