New study will offer a master plan for riverfront from Milton to Bagdad; public comment welcomed

Published on March 21, 2013 with No Comments

Do you have any ideas about ways to improve the waterfront between Milton and the Village of Bagdad?

If so, here’s your chance to speak up.

A study will determine a master plan design to develop the area along the Blackwater River, promoting business and tourism opportunities while ensuring plenty of public access to the waterfront, a prime recreational area for many people.

The study gets underway March 12 with a series of gatherings. A session will be held April 30 and another June 4 to hear comments from the general public as researchers gather information and begin to develop ideas.

The study will be done by Peter J. Smith and Co., an award-winning firm that has worked on numerous waterfront plans around the nation in its 30 years as a consultant.

“We place an emphasis on community involvement and evaluation,” Smith said in a presentation before his firm was awarded the contract.

Milton Mayor Guy Thompson said the study will give Milton and Bagdad a list of ideas and a master plan for upgrading recreational, tourist and business options along the river.

“It’s going to be outstanding,” he said. “This firm has lots of outside-the-box thinking.”

The study is a joint project for Milton and Bagdad as both communities look for ways to upgrade the quality of life and attract new business. The Tourist Development Council and the City of Milton contributed funding for the study, which will consider ways to link attractions in the two communities.

“We are cooperating with the Village of Bagdad,” said Thompson, who sees the teamwork as a smart way to minimize costs and increase chances for success.

Financing is always a concern, but officials hope to obtain money from the RESTORE fund established to award money to areas affected by the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The March 12 meeting will involve the steering committee of Bagdad and Milton representatives appointed to oversee the study. The session will discuss members’ visions for the area, a vital part of the community’s history.

In Smith’s presentation, the firm said that successful waterfronts share many of the same elements to create “remarkable places and memorable experiences.”

They include:
• A strong relationship between land, water and interaction at the water’s edge.
• Continuous public access along the water’s edge – with areas that invite pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and boaters.
• Design that meshes with local building form, style and size.
• A variety of uses to make it vibrant year-round.
• A positive contribution to the environment.

The April 30 public meeting will include a look at alternative scenarios and seek comments from citizens. A draft master plan will be released at the June 4 meeting, and key recommendations and a final report will be presented in the summer.

Exact times and places for meetings will be published as soon as they are finalized.

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