Village vision charrette wraps up in Moultonborough
Plan NH, a nonprofit agency that thus far has assisted 49 other communities with future planning and development, orchestrated the charrette held Friday and Saturday
It brought together a team of 13 experts in the fields of transportation, landscaping, engineering, real estate and municipal planning.
The charrette began Friday when team members toured the town, then held listening session to collect public input. A community dinner was held Friday evening at the Moultonborough Lions Club.
On Saturday, the Plan NH team developed conceptual plans from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Highlights of that session were presented to approximately 70 community members later in the day in the Moultonborough Academy cafeteria.
Wish lists and issues the public sought to address were written on large white notepads and taped to the cafeteria windows.
Items such as “user-friendly common areas,” “safe connections to town and school,” “sidewalks and multi-modal safety,” were among the wants. The public expressed a desire to utilize currently under-used historic buildings, such as the Grange Hall.
Some described the layout of the village as “disjointed,” with a lack of gathering places.
Another major concern was transportation — Route 25, a major east-west state road, dissects the village.
Heavy traffic and development has compromised the village, but what could it look like in the future?
In a summary on transportation brainstorming, volunteer team member Bill Oldenburg, who is in charge of highway design for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, said changes could be made to the road so travelers would realize they have to slow down through the village center.
Those changes, he said, could include roundabouts at both ends of the village.
The roadway could be narrowed to accommodate a bicycle lane; sidewalks could be added or enhanced with some landscaping, benches, light poles and trees.
“We need some sort of entry treatment somewhere before you get to the school — you need to identify to drivers that the road is changing,” said Oldenburg, adding that lowering the speed limit is not enough.
Another idea is to limit the number of driveways on Route 25, but he added that all the properties with existing driveways had not been reviewed at this point.
Volunteer team member Kyle Barker, of Barker Architects of Concord, covered the “Streetscape” portion of the summary.
“Walkability” was listed as “the most important issue” in this category, said Barker. He said the group looked at ways to bring some traffic off the street.
In the future, there may be a need for housing for first-time homebuyers and elderly residents who want to downsize, but like the appeal of living near amenities in the village center.
He said there is an opportunity to create smaller homes and that adding residences would add to the vitality of the village center.
The conceptual streetscape plan he outlined included the potential to put in a road parallel to Route 25, and to create housing nearby on lots including a 20-acre lot that, under current zoning, could accommodate 30 units.
Barker also found that existing footpaths on land parallel to Route 25 could be developed into a town road.
Using and restoring the town’s historic buildings was duly noted as a priority.
“There was a strong sentiment about retaining the feel and architectural quality you already have. Keep it. Preserve it. Promote it,” said Plan NH Executive Board member and Concord-based planning consultant Roger Hawk who led the charrette.
Experts noted the challenges of change that include financial and political realities.
“The political reality of any plan is that it needs to be phased in,” said Hawk, who said the team would present a final written plan to the town in a couple months.
That plan will include short, medium and long-term suggestions, as well as potential funding sources.
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Larissa Mulkern may be reached at LMulkern@newstote.com.
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