Second WIN2030 Open House Sees Transportation a Major Topic of Discussion

Last Thursday evening, the WIN2030 committee met for the second and final virtual public open house of the year to discuss the visioning topics created to drive Winthrop forward. The intention of the two-part series was to create a vision for Winthrop’s future and discuss goals that will help accomplish these visions. The meeting was broken up into eight topics including: housing, economic development, transportation, open space, education, facilities and energy, climate resilience, and operational services.

WIN20130 Advisory Committee member and Town Manager, Austin Faison opened up the meeting with a few remarks.

“This is a very important process for the long term future of Winthrop and I want the community to take the control of the direction that it’s going in. We want people to feel that their voices are being heard.”

The advisory team is made up of the Town Manager, representatives from the Metropolitan Area Planning Committee (MAPC), six committee members and community participants, all tasked with promoting awareness of Win2030 Visioning and preparing for next steps. The visioning process is meant to provide community feedback, highlight connections, measure and summarize goals, recommend actionable steps, inform a master planning process, and publish a report of all findings.

Transportation proved to be a hot topic during the meeting, with committee members dissecting a variety of ways to improve the town’s way of commuting via bus, foot, and bike. Chair of the Transportation Advisory Committee, Julia Wallerce shared insight surrounding how transportation has shifted since COVID, however; the concerns remain the same.

“It’s more important now than ever before that we have choices and different ways to move around. We can’t have crowded buses anymore. They need to run more frequently or we need to be able to provide more. Relatively speaking, traffic is not that bad if we design our streets to serve children, bikes, and people with disabilities,” said Wallerce. “Winthrop has a tight-knit network of streets that are nicely connected, it’s easy to walk from one place to another, and we don’t have overpasses or freeways cutting through the community.”

While traffic in and out of town has been less of an issue since more people are working from home, Wallerce and committee members agreed that there needs to be more marketing surrounding the transportation options.

Committee Member, Betsy Shane brought up the importance of bringing awareness to bus riders and walkers.

“When people think of Winthrop transportation, they typically think of how to get in and out of town, but the bus system can be utilized throughout town and we need to have a clear marketing plan that helps people see these options. We need to remind people that they can get on the bus in one place in town and get off at another section of town.”

Other plans for transportation include better signage, possible partnerships with Uber and Lift, and getting the speeds lowered so residents feel safe biking and walking their kids to school.

Other hot topics discussed in the meeting included how to best utilize open space for events to drive up economic development and tourism.

“There is so much untapped potential at Yirrell Beach,” said Committee Member, Wendy Millar Page. “When we talk about creating what Winthrop’s identity should be, we are underutilizing our natural market-the seashore.”

Scheduling food trucks, renting kayaks, and having unique places for people to visit were all mentioned as well as the need for more walkable options, considering Winthrop is one of Massachusetts most compact communities.

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