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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Follow up meeting explores Harrow streetscape suggestions

by Adam Gault

Members of the community attended the Town of Essex’s second public open house at the Harrow Arena last Thursday evening, a follow up session to the initial open house that solicited ideas and suggestions for the Harrow Streetscape plan.

At the previous open house, representatives from third party landscaping, architecture, and planning consulting firm, Stempski Kelly Associates, asked for input and suggestions with respect to the direction residents would like to see the town take when considering the potential streetscape improvement plans for Harrow Centre.

“Essentially, what [the public] is doing is confirming or affirming some of the information we have, and then giving us some more feedback or information on what direction they really see Harrow moving in as far as the streetscape goes,” Stempski, Kelly Associates architectural consultant, Sean Kelly, explained of the objective of the second public open house. “We have some conceptual works, some detailed works, thematic pages, but it’s pretty much a self-serve walkaround to provide comment.”

Through a series of group activities and exercises at the earlier meeting, three themes were developed surrounding the visual style residents would look to see highlighted and explored regarding the implementation of the plan, with strong leanings towards showcasing Harrow’s traditional and agricultural roots.

The three themes most selected by residents during that past exercise, included “Farm Roots,” “Small Town Chic,” and “Consistent Traditional.”

From an aesthetic perspective, this would include ensuring materials and objects used in the streetscape design would be reminiscent of wood and other farming materials, cleaner lines and attention to detail in the brickwork of sidewalks, and design motifs that will elicit an appreciation of the history of Harrow as a small, rural town.

“Everyone’s interested in those tactile things, things they see every day, light standards, how lighting appears on the street, pavements, greening, site furnishings, those are the four big things in a streetscape,” Kelly said of the public’s feedback. “More traditional, consistent, more of a ‘country chic’. Something that’s a little more progressive, a little more interesting. Taking the cues from traditional, but pushing a little more so they’re a little more fabricated. Maybe not necessarily industrial looking, but certainly a progressive look to them.”

During the second meeting, residents had the opportunity to view photographic renderings of Harrow’s downtown, illustrating their suggestions and providing a clearer picture on what potential streetscape improvements would look like upon completion.

Based on those renderings and suggestions, residents were asked to complete a small comment book, explaining what they did and didn’t like about the designs, which will additionally be used as part of the design process, and considered in the final recommendations for the Harrow Streetscape Plan.

Stempski Kelly Associates will continue to work with area residents, a steering committee of locally active business representatives, and Town of Essex staff to prepare a phasing and costing plan, as well as set priorities for the remainder of the project.

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