WOONSOCKET – The city has received a $100,000 grant to develop a plan to make Main Street a more inviting, robust place to live, work and shop.
The “Main Street Livability Plan” is intended to pump new vitality into the area with streetscape improvements, innovative zoning, a traffic flow study and additional parking, according to City Planner Jennifer Siciliano.
Grants were issued on a competitive basis through the Division of Statewide Planning, using funds from the U.S. Department of Transporation and the Federal Highway Administration. Siciliano was notified Thursday that the application she compiled on behalf of the city was a winner, and that the money will be available on April 2.
RiverzEdge Arts Project and the YWCA of Northern Rhode Island will serve as partners in the planning process.
“It’s a plan that’s going to help with the revitalization of Main Street, which is the principal goal,” said Siciliano. “It’s going to address things like streetscape design, where to put in trees, how to make the area more pedestrian friendly, where we might put public art, more bike racks.
“It’s all about how we can just make Main Street a great place to shop, mingle, meet and really make it lively,” the planner added.
Another goal of the plan is to develop new parking spots for downtown visitors where cars won’t interfere with pedestrians or be readily visible from the street.
Last, but far from least, the plan will consider the implementation of new zoning concepts that focus less on establishing real estate groups based on use and more on certain aspects of design and size. It’s called “form-based” zoning, says Siciliano.
“The form-based code would be the first of its kind in an urban community in Rhode Island,” she said. “It will ensure that any development or redevelopment will be in the same character as the existing historic buildings on Main Street.”
Mayor Leo T. Fontaine said partnering with RiverzEdge and the YWCA on the application made for a stronger application.
“Woonsocket has a history of strong public-private partnerships,” the mayor said. “The city’s application offered a strong vision of Main Street and a creative approach, and we’re very pleased that the funds will help move our vision forward.”
All but a handful of the state’s cities and towns applied for one of the livability grants, but only 15 were selected for funding.
A portion of the plan will be developed by outside consultants who will have to bid for the work, and the rest will be done in-house by the planning department, said Siciliano.
The plan will include workshops and committee meetings, which will offer ample opportunity for community input. For information contact Siciliano at 767-1418 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org . A calendar of plan-related events will soon will be posted on the city website: www.ci.woonsocket.ri.us .