The following letter was sent to the State of Connecticut Department of Transportation Monday, Jan. 23, from Smarter Planning for Ridgefield in response to plans to improve Main Street's traffic flow

We, the undersigned, represent a variety of skills and interests, including architecture and landscape design. Three of us own businesses located on Main Street, one is a Main Street landlord, and others are long time volunteers for various town boards and non profit organizations. We have attended most of the meetings held by First Selectman Rudy Marconi pertaining to this project, including several meetings in which the DOT made presentations.

We recently learned of the Wednesday, January 25th meeting at the DOT offices in Newington, but were not invited to participate. We believe that our views, and  those of other critical stakeholders, are not adequately represented, so we are writing to express them.

We have reviewed the latest plans for Main Street “improvements”, and today we walked Main Street between Governor Street and Prospect Street, with the plans in hand.

We find the plan unacceptable for the following reasons:

A. The loss of parking on the west side, from Catoonah Street to the Toy Chest is not a viable option. Any loss of parking in the primary retail section of the road would be detrimental to the businesses.

B. The height and extent of retaining walls that will be required by this plan on the west side will destroy the quaint beauty of the street and shopping district. Even without elevations indicated on the plan, it would appear that the walls in certain areas would need to be 5 feet high.

C. The loss of trees, especially mature trees, due to relocation of sidewalks, installation of retaining walls and new curbs and road widening, will have a severe and detrimental effect on our beautiful Main Street.  Any replacement trees will take decades to grow, resulting in a loss of shade for pedestrians and the adjacent buildings for many years.

D. Relocating the southbound travel lane closer to the angled parking in front of the Addessi block and Ridgefield Hardware will eliminate the ability for cars to navigate this parking area, which are heavily used with a lot of turnover.

E. It is not clear from the plan how the existing loading zone will be handled.

F. The alignment of the Prospect Street/CVS parking lot entrance will have a detrimental impact on the safe entry to Ballard Park, will encourage cars to travel at a high rate of speed (the wider the pavement, the faster the cars will go) entering and exiting that lot.  The aesthetics of this change, with 3Ilane entry/exit is reminiscent of strip malls on the Post Road in Norwalk or Federal Road in Danbury. This is Ridgefield: our town is over 300 years old, and we prize our downtown with its charm and character.

G. On the proposed plan, curbs are being moved in and out with no consistency such as in front of our Town Hall. This is detrimental to the unified look of Main St.  There is no rationale to these ins and outs other than to make way for automobiles.  Many small towns – like the historic and beautiful Virginia towns, Middleburg, Upperville and Aldie near Washington, D.C. and bisected by the major cross-country U.S Route 50  — have taken a totally different approach.  They have constructed well thought out plans to narrow or “neck down” intersections to slow traffic through town for the sake of pedestrian safety and the character of the village, installed textured cross walks, and constructed entrances to the towns that signal to drivers that they are entering a special place that deserves their respect!

As long time residents who must navigate Main Street by car on a daily basis, we find that this plan does not represent what we would like to see for our beautiful downtown. While we appreciate the need to improve traffic flow, this plan does not adequately protect the charm and character of our Main Street, and we respectfully request that it be revised to reflect our concerns – perhaps limited to synchronized or smart traffic lights.  There are trade-offs in every road project, but we feel that too much of the beauty of our downtown is sacrificed with this plan.

We thank you in advance for considering our opinions, which we believe are representative of many Ridgefielders.

Sincerely,

Ellen Burns, Books on the Common

Michele Valenzuela

Helen Dimos, ASLA

Ann Chapin Fischer

Elizabeth DiSalvo, Architect, AIA

Vadim Fischer

Wayne Addessi, Addessi Jewelers

Tamera Galvin

Theresa Bearden Rettger

Patricia Bennett

Torrey M. Cooke

Clifford Wattley

Charles Valenzuela

Glenny Montanari