By Sue Ellen Woodcock
For the past 10 months the Town Manager, Town officials and the Economic Development Citizen’s Advisory Committee have been working on what is called a “master plan” for the Center Business District. Others have called the document a ‘vision”. But no matter what its called it shows what could be possible in the center.
Working along side them has been MassDevelopment and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. The draft of the plan was prepared by a company call Form + Place, Inc.
It is still a couple of months away from being voted on by the Town Council, but the final version should serve as a guide to refreshing the Center Business District. So far the committee has gather 75 comments about the document and they are working through them.
“It’s a living document,” said EDCAC member Michael Lucerto, and will be used in helping to obtain grants for any project.
The first part of the document covers some of the history of Winthrop such as the old hotels. Some other challenges the town faces includes housing, urban design, transportation, infrastructure, climate change and seasonal fluctuations.
The plan makes it clear that whatever is done that Winthrop should retain the feel of a small and seasoned coastal community.
The plan addresses parking in the Center, finding that there is ample parking with 1,026 spaces on-street, public parking lots, and private lots. In the immediate center, the study found that there are 698 spaces.
Part of the plan, which is just for the center business district and not another part of Town, consists of four schemes for the use of the old middle/high school on Pauline Street. The four conceptual design alternatives show a range of redevelopment. The first scheme is the reuse of the existing middle school buildings. This would mean the town retains ownership of the building but would have to invest $1.5 million in bringing it up to code, a new sprinkler system, insurance, utilities, insurance and maintenance, and ADA compliance.
The next three schemes plan for redevelopment of the buildings.
The second scheme is a mixed use building adding the existing auditorium building and gymnasium.
The third scheme remove the auditorium and the classroom area, allowing for more flexibility. It would allow for up to 60 residential units, with room for retail, daycare pr other commercial use.
The fourth scheme redevelops the entire middle school site with mixed use, retail and residential.
The three school buildings there are connected to the skating rink and combined make a 600-foot long wall of buildings.
Work still has to be done on the draft.
“We’re hoping to have it voted on by the Town Council in March,” said Joe Domelowicz Jr., of the Town Manager’s office.