Letter: Poor planning creates bad mix in downtown Shelton

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Contributed photo

To the Editor:

The economic development strategy in Shelton amounts to letting the tail wag the dog. In downtown, along the Bridgeport Avenue corridor, and more recently even in Huntington, we have poorly planned development projects that don’t fit the area being pushed through to the detriment of our city.

When a land use decision is made, it impacts the community for decades to come.

It doesn’t cost a lot of money to plan properly. We don’t have to raise taxes to do so. We have to collaborate, engage stakeholders and professionals and admit that one person or a favored developer, doesn’t know everything.

A plan should provide an informed vision and road map to improve and develop an area over time. This gives an investor an understanding of what a community wants in an area and builds out a vision. An area-specific (downtown, Bridgeport Avenue corridor, etc.) planning effort looks at the area comprehensively, including roadway infrastructure, parking, transportation, environmental sensitivities, appropriate uses and regulations, safety and aesthetics, and maximizes and connects assets of the area, like the riverfront. In this scenario, the dog wags the tail and a well-planned and well-functioning area results, rather than the piecemeal mess we find ourselves in.

Shelton could have the best downtown in Connecticut given the riverfront and the bones of the area. What we have is, sad. We have developments approved that are out of scale for the area. Overbuilt money grabs. Density without proper on-site parking, creating a mess for residents, visitors and business owners.

As if that is not bad enough, we have land use decisions being made that cripple our ability to maximize the waterfront into the future. And, our roadway infrastructure has not been addressed or in some cases was poorly addressed, creating public safety concerns and traffic nightmares.

To top that off, the quality of some of the developments leaves much to be desired and has resulted in major headaches for our residents. You deserve better.

The Bridgeport Avenue corridor needs a thoughtful and well-planned approach as well. We have a major stalled development that is now blight. We have increased vacancies throughout the corridor. We have numerous, aggressive proposals to add more apartments and hundreds of thousands of square feet of additional retail space. Development and growth is good and important when it fits a community. Absent any plan or vision, we have out-of-whack proposals. You deserve better.

We need to know the service drain and impact of these projects. We need to examine how much retail space can succeed given the market and projections for the future. We need to understand just how many apartments we can handle given the impact on emergency services, schools and other services that are already stretched. We have missed many opportunities to make the corridor work better for vehicles and other modes of transportation. Again, once a land use decision is made, we live with it for decades.

We have great opportunities to continue to grow our grand list and add great services and amenities to our city. We need new leadership to get us on a better path for the future. When I am mayor, we will bring the approach, I outlined above. We will level the playing field for businesses and investors and get the quality that we deserve. When I am mayor, the dog will wag the tail.

David A. Eldridge (D),

Shelton mayor candidate