Consultant says he will not recommend building retail shops at Fowler Field
A consultant hired to help the city create its new Plan of Conservation and Development said Tuesday that he won’t likely suggest the city turn Fowler Field into a retail shopping area.
Since city officials started talking about updating the Plan of Conservation and Development — which is a blueprint for future development — some residents have been up in arms over talk of putting shops at Fowler Field.
Tim Chaucer, who has strongly objected to any mention of changing Fowler Field, pulled up to a Planning and Zoning meeting Tuesday with a sign on his pickup truck that read, “Fowler Field for public uses not private gain.”
Alan Plattus, a Yale architect with the Urban Design Workshop, had presented several scenarios in June when he met with residents to get their input on the city’s future. He suggested changes should be made at Fowler Field, which now has commuter parking lots, baseball fields, tennis courts and a pavilion.
Among his ideas was a shorefront retail plaza that would include apartments and more open space next to the harbor so people could enjoy its beauty.
Plattus said that since the majority of residents who shared their opinions were against the idea of retail shops there, he doesn’t plan to recommend the city take that route.
“The dominant voice was against any commercial or residential development,” Plattus said. “It was strong, vehement and passionate” for keeping Fowler Field as a recreational area.
In addition to the opposition, there are other reasons Plattus said he will not recommend retail development there. Even the mention of it raises ire, and that is taking attention away from the overall Plan of Conservation and Development, he said.
Also, Plattus said he suspects there might be problems developing Fowler Field because of the water table. “If that’s the case, development would be more difficult and more expensive,” he said.
When he presents a final report, he will include all the scenarios for city officials to consider. But he said he expects to recommend the city lean toward keeping the area recreational, with some improvements. There should be less commuter parking at the field because it takes up too much room and isn’t a good use of open space, he said. Also, he suggested there be space set aside for passive recreation, such as sitting and reading a book or taking a walk.
City planners will use Plattus’ information, and their own, as they work toward updating the Plan of Conservation and Development. The plan must be updated every 10 years.