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YARMOUTH — The goal of a new Main Street Master Plan, according to the planning and development director, is to maintain the village character while making targeted improvements to further enhance its charm.
Planner Alex Jaegerman has been working with an advisory committee of residents and several consultants for the past six months, including Terrence J. DeWan & Associates, which has taken the lead on the project.
Jaegerman told councilors at their May 2 workshop that “we’re still working out phasing and costing and potential funding sources,” and the hope is to have a final report ready for council review sometime in June.
Councilor Tim Shannon called Main Street a “really important cultural landmark for the town that “people feel strongly about.”
On first blush, Shannon said “the plan strikes me as too much concrete and not enough green,” although it calls for planting additional streetside trees, several new rain gardens and mostly grassed esplanades between the sidewalk and the street.
Councilors agreed last week to hold off on any in-depth discussion of the proposed master plan until an Operations Committee meeting in late May. Town Manager Nat Tupper said this week that the meeting could take place either May 23 or 30.
Jaegerman said the hope last week was to brief the council on where the plan stands and get reactions from town leaders.
During the May 2 discussion, Councilor Andrew Kittredge said it was clear to him that councilors needed more time to digest all of the information presented because “this is a big deal and deserves a lot of thought.”
Councilor Meghan Casey agreed, saying councilors definitely need an opportunity to discuss the report more at length. She also said the presentation by Keith Smith at DeWan left her with a lot of questions.
Smith said the Main Street Master Plan covers the length between Elm Street and Marina Drive.
He called Yarmouth a “great town with a great Main Street” and said “it’s vibrant with room for growth and new development,” but there are “some obstacles,” which is why the street “warrants improvement.”
He said, in general, the sidewalks have various widths and are made of different materials and are in varying conditions, ranging from relatively new to more deteriorated. Smith said the crosswalks along Main Street also need work and said varying driveway widths are also problematic.
The purpose of the master plan is to better unify the streetscape, Smith said, including more uniform sidewalk widths of 8 feet across, to accommodate a number of pedestrian uses. The plan also calls for new street lighting and trees along the street.
Smith said under the master plan the goal would be to encourage businesses to provide public seating where it’s practical and add public art where it can be best integrated.
He also said “there’s been a lot of discussion about utility relocation,” which would certainly “add to the beautification” of Main Street. However, removing utility poles from the thoroughfare is not part of the contract for the master plan.
According to Smith, there are various hurdles to moving the poles, including the potentially high cost and the need to secure easements to move them behind the buildings that front the street.
For Shannon, however, removing the utility poles from Main Street is a high priority that he would like to see explored further.
Overall, Smith said, “we don’t want to change Yarmouth’s great character and charm, we just want to enhance it as much as we can.”
A draft Main Street Master Plan for Yarmouth calls for unifying the streetscape, including providing uniformity in the width of the sidewalks. A consultant says an 8-foot wide sidewalk is ideal for multiple uses, include walking and bike riding.
A new Main Street Master Plan for Yarmouth would cover the length of the street between Elm Street and Marina Drive.