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Dover seeks input on downtown design

Union Leader Correspondent

January 19. 2014 7:47PM

DOVER — The city is in need of a few dreamers and some pragmatic voices to help connect side streets to the downtown, according to Chris Parker, director of planning and community development.

The first of three public workshops is scheduled to begin Tuesday at 6 p.m. in city council chambers.

Parker said it’s important for residents, business owners and visitors to participate in the city’s Downtown Pedestrian and Vehicular Access and Streetscape Study, which will be led by the consultants in the Cecil Group, based in Boston, Mass.

“We’re looking for people who live in the downtown, work in the downtown or use the downtown,” Parker said.

Parker said public input is critical to the process to address the issues or concerns involving traffic patterns and pedestrian use of Chestnut Street, Main Street, Central Avenue and Washington Street.

Parker said the project began after residents expressed concerns to the city council in 2012 about pedestrian safety along Chestnut Street, especially where it meets with Third Street. He added this intersection, located near the railroad station, has a strange, disconnected design.

“Right now, Chestnut Street was designed to act as a bypass to Central Avenue,” Parker said, adding that despite the fact it’s a block away, it “doesn’t feel like part of the downtown.”

Parker said it’s important to understand which areas need to be adjusted, what aspects need to remain and whether any community art or designs could be used.

“At this point, people should be dreamers,” Parker said.

The ideas and suggestions will shape three proposals for improvement projects, which will be presented during a second workshop and finalized at a third session by August, Parker said.

Officials hope to rebalance the downtown “so that future conditions support a mixed-use environment that is more convenient, pleasant and economically vibrant,” according to a release by the city.

The revitalization study, which is funded through the city’s Capital Improvements Program, has four main goals: “create a more attractive pedestrian-oriented environment, make vehicle circulation more clear and convenient, simplify links to parking and expand bicycle and transit links to and through the downtown,” according to the release.

Once the “preferred alternative” is agreed upon, the recommendations will be presented to the city’s Transportation Advisory Commission.

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