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Public input provided for Harrow streetscape improvements



by Adam Gault

The Town of Essex hosted a public meeting at the Harrow & Colchester South Community Centre last Thursday evening to explore options and gather public feedback regarding upcoming streetscape improvement plans for Harrow Centre.

As well as providing an opportunity to gauge input and gather ideas from members of the local community, the event also featured a presentation from third party consulting firm, Stempski Kelly Associates. The landscape, architecture, and planning firm has worked with the Town in the past, most recently when Essex Centre underwent its own streetscape improvement plan a few years ago.

Essex’s Economic Development Officer, Nelson Silveira, said the consultants would be able to help explain to the public what the future of the Harrow downtown could look like, and what core features could be improved as part of the project.

“When we look at the downtown, we look at sidewalks, different types of furniture, trash receptacles, what kind of theme we should give to the downtown. It goes over the whole streetscape plan, and in the future, it gives us costs in terms of what we can do moving forward in terms of capital,” Silveira said.

Presently, the Town of Essex has no concrete timeline surrounding implementation of the project, Silveira said.

“We want to hear what the public has to say. Nobody knows Harrow Centre and the town more than the residents and business owners here,” Silveira said. “We’re here to listen to what they have to say. That’s really going to form this streetscape plan that we’re going to use in the next several years to implement [improvements].”

Stempski Kelly Associates architectural consultants, Sean Kelly and Amy Pervis, then provided a presentation on how to highlight Harrow’s aesthetics, and ways the Town could implement improvements.

In the presentation, Kelly spoke of several planning components, issues, and challenges, that affect Harrow’s urban layout.  These included the development of a communal aesthetic, challenges between pedestrian and vehicular use, and the importance of the town referencing its past in maintaining its history.

“Streets are actually the most vital part of a community’s identity,” Kelly explained. It’s where everyone travels. It’s really important for us to understand the public space system of a community.”

After the presentation, members of the public in attendance were divided into groups, where they were to complete activities relating to the nature of Harrow’s identity, and ways Harrow could better position itself as a thriving community.

In their compiled efforts, members of the community would like to highlight Harrow as a seasonal destination, with its wineries and proximity to the lake. There was also a desire to encourage street festivals with road closures, senior living, and enhance the area’s rustic and lively appeal.

Stempski Kelly Associates will consider how some of the feedback and findings can be incorporated with the data and findings to be presented at a follow-up open house and presentation to be determined at a later date. 

 

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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