A 150-plus page plan outlining how the Town of Greenwich should preserve and develop the hamlet of Cos Cob received mixed reviews from residents and town officials this week.
At its Jan. 14 meeting, the Planning and Zoning Commission agreed to a 30-day comment period for continued public input on the strategy plan written by the consulting firm of BFJ Planning of New York City.
One of the recommendations outlined by Susan Favate of BFJ would have the town create a village district to control future building location and design, and rules on signage for buildings. She also outlined recommended changes to traffic and parking patterns, which she said would attract more shoppers to the center of Cos Cob, commonly called The Hub.
Most residents who spoke agreed with recommendations that the Mill Pond, bordered by East Putnam Avenue and Strickland Road needs dredging, sidewalks are needed along East Putnam, Strickland and Mead Avenue — along the route to the Cos Cob Park that's slated for completion later this year, and that traffic congestion in the hub of Cos Cob needs to be reduced.
Ann Shifman-Deibler and Andrew McAuley, who both said they live on the Mill Pond park, panned the suggestion that the town create a boardwalk and add other park amenities to attract visitors. Both expressed concerned for the wildlife found in the pond area.
"The park isn't taken care of by the town ... people leave garbage there ... if you want to bring people to look at this and admire it, you have a plan to take care of it," Shifman-Deibler said.
McAuley said, "It’s an amazing estuary with a diversity of wilfdlife. It’s the core of Cos Cob. If we don’t address the Mill Pond, it will be a boardwalk to look at garbage. I want to reiterate community’s support to the pond."
Peter Berg, president of the Cos Cob Association, said that group supports the plan. However, he said that the group will withhold its support until dozens of factual errors are corrected. Among the errors are information regarding the demographics and population of the hamlet, which Berg said continues to grow rather than shrink as the consultants wrote in the report.
RTM member Christopher vonKeyserling panned recommendations to realign traffic patterns at the intersection of Sinoway Road and East Putnam Avenue where the Cos Cob Fire Department is located. To eliminate the diagonal turning lane and shift all traffic directly onto East Putnam would be a "fantasy," von Keyserling said.
Von Keyserling also questioned whether that realignment would reduce the driveway apron and sight lines for the fire department.
"Eighty percent of the issues on the Post Road would be eliminated if the traffic lights were coordinated. It's a complete screwup. The lights are not programmed to move traffic, they are programmed to snarl traffic," he said.
First Selectman Peter Tesei said the planning commission’s role is to determine "where in Cos Cob are there
places that can be tweaked and continue to keep it the attractive" while working with existing regulations, and also adapting regulations that need change.
RTM District 5 member Karen Otzemel of Riverside was critical of a recommendation that pedestrian crossing signals along East Putnam Avenue not have an all-stop signal. "When you have an elementary school, a middle school and the high school, there is a great number of students who walk along (the East Putnam Avenue corridor) ... I am finding a disconnect with no all-stop traffic lights," Otzemel said.
Pedestrian safety and increased sidewalk access to the Cos Cob waterfront was highlighted by residents.
Paul Pugliese said, "Cos Cob has the most public access points but it is the most narrow and shallow (of town harbors). Dredging should be a priority and the Cos Cob power plant park is really deficient — not to have waterfront access on a seven-acre parcel of land is a travesty and should be remedied."