Opinions Sought On Harwich Center Revitalization

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Harwich Center , Historic preservation , Economic development

This is a conceptual rendering of potential development of the former gas station lot in Harwich Center and traffic calming improvements in the village done in a technical assistance report by the Cape Cod Commission in 2009.

HARWICH — Stakeholders and residents throughout the community are being urged to attend a Harwich Center initiative committee public forum and provide input on restoring the economic, aesthetic and historic vibrancy of the village.

The committee, formed by the board of selectmen at the urging of residents of the village, has established a mission to develop and advocate specific, well thought-out recommendations for effective action, legislative, regulatory and administrative relief to promote the historic, multi-use character of Harwich Center, to regain the center's active “village” atmosphere and charm, and to stimulate, nurture and support the investment and economic activity needed to accomplish the goals.

The message in the first couple of meetings of the committee centered around the need to hear from those people who have a particular interest in the village, its stakeholders. Stakeholders include people who live, work and/or own property or a business in the center. A stakeholder meeting will be held on Thursday, Jan. 17 at 5:30 p.m. in the town hall hearing room.

“From your daily experience, you know the village's good and bad, its attributes, issues and concerns,” committee vice chairman Paul Doane said.

Doane said while the committee is directly informing the business and property owners in the village of the meeting, they want to encourage and hear from all Harwich residents. The committee is looking for verbal testimony, but written comments will be welcome.

The group is looking for comments on what is working and what does not work from the perspective of residents.

The committee will be examining recommended actions from past plans and reports undertaken for Harwich Center. Short-term recommendations include implementing sidewalk and bikeway improvements; implementing street improvements, crosswalks, traffic calming measures; right-of-way taking of a connecting link between Parallel and Main streets; extending on-street parking easterly on Main Street; and considering locations for possible easements for parking and wastewater treatment. The medium term recommendations include introducing “form based zoning” to promote sense of place and character; developing and implementing plans for public parking and wastewater treatment improvements; exploring street circulation changes; and supporting a Harwich Center Cultural District, including place-making activity and historic walking tours.

The long term recommendations include traffic circulation and roadway improvements and development of a plan for financing placement of utility lines underground.

The committee will focus on listening to the comments of the public, analyzing which of the past recommendations remain valid, coordinating with boards, committees, property owners, stakeholders on the opportunities and developing recommendations for prioritized strategic action items moving forward.

Later, the committee will present findings and recommendations, solicit feedback and gauge the level of support from stakeholders. The committee has been charged with presenting a final summary report with recommendations to the board of selectmen by the end of the year.