EDITORIAL: Improving Pawcatuck is a continuing effort

·2 min read

Jun. 22—Despite numerous proposals and innovative ideas put forward in recent years, downtown Pawcatuck's revitalization continues to be heavier on potential than reality. While some progress certainly is evident in Stonington's easternmost village, in comparison to the town's other villages of Mystic and Stonington Borough, along with Pawcatuck's economic sister village of Westerly, R.I., Pawcatuck continues to lag behind.

But it's not for lack of trying. Another promising and innovative proposal again aimed at spurring Pawcatuck revitalization as the region and state emerges from the doldrums of the pandemic is now on the table. Town and state officials will conduct a virtual conversation Thursday on a plan to create a tiny Pawcatuck historic district that would exempt four properties from the need to comply with extremely costly flood-zone requirements. By removing these barriers, it's expected that property owners and potential developers will be more eager to invest in the properties located on and near the Pawcatuck River.

We have advocated for numerous Pawcatuck revitalization efforts in the past, including specific proposals such as creating a greenway along the river that forms the Connecticut-Rhode Island border and developing an apartment building overlooking that river on the site of the former Campbell Grain building. In that spirit, we support this most recent effort to create the Pawcatuck Bridge Historic District.

The proposal originates with the town's Economic Development Commission, which continues to make Pawcatuck revitalization a priority. To the commission's credit, its efforts have led to projects that are now in the works, approved, or at least being discussed. This newest proposal complements these other efforts.

If approved, 5, 29, 34 and 38 West Broad Street would be placed in the historic district. The properties include the long-vacant Laura's Landing commercial building, where renovation work has begun, and the large mixed-use building that houses Riverwalk Condominiums and several small businesses, such as the Bogue's Alley deli.

The historic district would provide a full exemption from flood-zone requirements that can break redevelopment efforts because of the cost. It seems a reasonable step to protect and preserve the historic nature of the buildings and, by extension, the entire neighborhood.

Creating this small historic district would be another tool needed to ensure Pawcatuck revitalization.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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