The cut-through road from Main Street to Post Road East in the Parker Harding parking lot, as depicted in this rendering, was re-established in revised plans for the project in response to many critics. It would be flanked by a riverside boardwalk.
A rendering of the Parker Harding parking lot.

By Thane Grauel

WESTPORT — The plan for a new Parker Harding Plaza sailed through the Flood and Erosion Control Board on Wednesday night.

The plan to redo the parking lot bordered by Main Street stores and the Saugatuck River has seen some very choppy waters over the last year, after merchants and restaurant owners assailed the loss of dozens of parking spots, and people worried about the traffic effects of eliminating the cut-through from Post Road East to Main Street.

Parker Harding site plan.
Parker Harding site plan.

After the public pushback, the process was paused by First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker and changes were made.

A revised plan unveiled in August restored some of the lost parking spots and the cut-through. The proposal is now going before town boards and commissions.

Peter Ratkiewich.
Public Works Director Peter Ratkiewich

Tuesday, it was presented at a joint meeting of the Historic District Commission and Architectural Review Board. No one spoke in opposition.

Wednesday, no one from the public had questions or concerns when the plan was heard by the Flood and Erosion Control Board.

Public Works Director Peter Ratkiewich said that from a stormwater perspective, the project improves things because green areas would be added and pavement subtracted.

“By removing some impervious area, installing a vegetative buffer along the waterfront and another vegetative buffer between the road and the parking lot, and to install rain gardens … the result of that is a reduction in stormwater flow in this parking lot because we now have green areas that can absorb something,” he said.

A boardwalk and concrete walk along the river, he noted, will go from about 3 or 4 feet wide to be about 14 feet wide.

Board member Robert Aldrich noted there’s not enough turnover in the parking.

“That would be a great comment for the Planning and Zoning meeting,” said Ted Gill, a town engineer who attends the flood board meetings.

The vote to approve the plan was unanimous.

Thane Grauel grew up in Westport and has been a journalist in Fairfield County and beyond for 35 years. Reach him at editor@westportjournal.com. Learn more about us here.