Residents offer input into how city should look in future

Residents offered comments on various topics when they attended a public hearing to help lay out Milford for the future. One resident suggested changing the name of Walnut Beach to Myrtle Beach, another suggested the city carefully consider the development of Eisenhower Park, and another cautioned city leaders not to stand in the way of redeveloping existing commercial buildings.
The comments came during the last of a series of public hearings leading up to the creation of an updated Plan of Conservation and Development. The plan serves as a blueprint for the city’s future, including policies, regulations and goals to help direct the city’s development in coming years.

The city’s Planning & Zoning Department, with help from the Yale Urban Design Workshop, completed a draft plan, which may be found on the department’s website. City Planner David Sulkis said the board will take public comments into account before finalizing the plan and forwarding it to the city aldermen and the Council of Governments for approval.
“Our plan has to be consistent with the regional plan, which has to be consistent with the state plan,” Sulkis said. He expects the plan to be finalized around October.
Sulkis said he’s been pleased with the public input. “We’ve heard a lot of positive comments,” he said.
The final hearing took place last week, and a number of residents showed up to offer their input.
Roberta Monte of Viscount Drive asked that the open space between the Heritage Sound condominiums and Walnut Beach remain as an undeveloped berm because it protects the homes from Mother Nature. While area homes had to be evacuated before Tropical Storm Irene, Heritage Sound was safe from flooding because of the berm, she said.
“I’d like to see provisions to keep it as open space in perpetuity,” Monte said.
Several residents, like Betsey Wright, said the entire area behind the Milford Library should remain as a park. The draft plan of Conservation and Development suggests that “the Wilcox Nature Preserve be split off and zoned as open space.”
Wright said Wilcox Park and Fowler Field should be zoned the same, as open and recreational space, because when the city acquired the land in 1938, it did so with the purpose of keeping the entire parcel as a park. A quit claim deed from the late Helen and Carl Langner, in which the Langners turned over their land to the city for $1, says “the premises are to be perpetually dedicated to park purposes... There shall be no buildings or other obstructions in said park cutting off or affecting the view of the harbor from the remaining property...”
Other parcels the city purchased or was deeded in the area came with similar park stipulations, according to city records.
Wright also asked city leaders to examine the name of Walnut Beach. She said that when city leaders chose the name for the new redeveloped beach in the 1960s, they picked the wrong name. “Walnut Beach was just a small area west and east of the end of Naugatuck Avenue which was developed by the Connecticut Railroad and Light Company (trolley) around 1898,” she said.
“Perhaps an answer could be to make all future references to Walnut Beach as ‘Walnut at Myrtle Beach of Milford’,” Wright said.
Sal Cappello, reached by phone this week, said Myrtle and Walnut were certainly separate beaches: Myrtle Beach was in the area of the boardwalk, and Walnut Beach was beyond that, starting at about the area where the beach entrance is now and going west.
Cappello grew up in Myrtle Beach. He didn’t like the idea of combining the names in any way, but liked the idea of having separate signs for Myrtle and Walnut beaches.
Another resident asked city leaders to be careful about how high beach-front houses may be built because they block views and the sun from other homes.
Vincent Piselli disagreed with a statement in the draft plan that the boardwalk at the Beaverbrook trails should be rebuilt. A fire in April heavily damaged the boardwalk. Piselli said that construction of the boardwalk may have disturbed the wetlands there, thus causing phragmites and other invasive plants to grow there. The fire destroyed much of the phragmites, and rebuilding the boardwalk might bring it back, he said.
Joseph Agro spoke about the plan, too. He said Eisenhower Park and Fowler Field are two very important parcels for city residents. He agreed with the Yale Urban Design Workshop’s view that Fowler Field contains disjointed features — commuter parking, tennis, baseball — and he urged city planners to make sure that doesn’t happen to Eisenhower Park.
“It needs to be all encompassing,” Agro said, adding that the park should be systematic, and not just a conglomeration of things.
Rsident Joseph Codespoti said that with so much focus on open space and redesigning space, the Plan of Conservation and Development may hinder practical redevelopment of existing buildings, especially along Route 1.
“Unless we redevelop and continue to develop, we will be left behind,” Codespoti said.
He said it is important to be able to redevelop commercial and other properties that need to be redeveloped.
The Plan of Conservation and Development must be updated every 10 years so the city can qualify for grants. Milford’s was last updated in 2002: It is a statement of policies, goals and standards for the physical and economic development of the city.