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Freeport panel endorses School Street extension project

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Freeport panel endorses School Street extension project

FREEPORT — The Traffic and Parking Committee on Tuesday endorsed a proposed School Street extension site plan.

The extension to Bow Street was proposed by Adam and Sheila Nappi, owners of Bow Street Market. They plan to expand and develop their store and create a new market with four, two-bedroom apartments above it.

The new market will have a 15,000-square-foot footprint, but would be disguised from the street by the slope of the land. The apartments are a requirement of the mixed-use zoning passed several years ago.

Nappi has said the street expansion is critical to the development of Bow Street Market, will help connect the neighborhoods and create better traffic flow.

The committee reviewed the proposal three times, once in January, again in February, and finally on Tuesday morning, when it unanimously agreed to endorse the plan with a few modifications.

A major change in the plan was a request for sidewalks from the Town Council.

Nappi presented his proposal at a March 9 council meeting and was told the council would be willing to accept an extended School Street as long as the plan includes sidewalks on both sides of the street. The plan to extend School Street now includes a proposal for two, 10-foot travel lanes; two, 4-foot paved shoulders, and two 5-foot curbed sidewalks.

Gary Profenno, chairman of the Traffic and Parking Committee, said since the Project Review Board accepted the site plan with a few conditions, it was the committee's responsibility to ensure it was a safe plan.

It addressed sidewalks; signs banning through trucks on East, Park and School streets, and road edge striping along the same roads. Members also discussed left-hand turns on School to Main streets, and the need for lighting improvements.

The committee, aware of the council directive, agreed that if and when School Street is extended and improved, at least one side of the road needs a contiguous sidewalk.

"The recommended site plan meets the safety standards for this committee with one condition," Profenno said. "The lighting study needs to be complete before we make a decision on that." It is also a condition of the Project Review Board approval.

Town Planner Donna Larson is working with a lighting consultant to address lighting at the intersection of Park and School streets. The committee agreed to eliminate the left turn restriction from School Street to Main Street and address the flow of traffic after about a year. It also agreed to stripe School Street from Park to Bow streets and to use signs and the four-way stop at the intersection of Park and School streets to slow traffic. 

Nappi said he was pleased that the Project Review Board and Traffic and Parking Committee took the concerns of the residents into consideration as they moved forward with the approval process.

"The connectivity piece is primary for residents," he said. "The lower School Street connection is critical. It is also important to incorporate neighborhood input about speed, safety and connections."

The next step, Nappi said, is to determine the cost of the project. Then the public hearing process will begin and the council will make a final decision.

Larson said the estimated valuation of the project is about $2 million, and she is waiting for Nappi to provide a construction cost estimate.

"When we find out the figures, we need to know what the Town Council is willing to do, if anything," she said.

Nappi said the endorsement by the Freeport Economic Corporation Development Corp. was another positive step in the process.

Sande Updegraph, executive director of the FEDC, said the board of directors on Feb. 23 unanimously approved Nappi's application to create a Bow Street Market Tax Increment Finance District.

The district would capture a portion of the new value created by the construction of the Bow Street Mixed Use Project, and its proceeds would be used to repay the public infrastructure costs associated with the project. The project meets all TIF guidelines, Updegraph said.

"After the various boards and committees go through the plan, then the cost analysis begins," she said.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net