Train station path, crosswalks, and islands proposed for Wilton Center

Wilton Heights LLC is looking to create a pathway with high-visibility crosswalks and sidewalks from 300 Danbury Road to the Wilton train station in order to provide a “strong link” between the two sites.

Craig Flaherty — principal, president, and senior engineer at Stamford-based Redniss & Mead — presented the proposed off-site improvements on behalf of Wilton Heights LLC during the Planning and Zoning Commission’s Nov. 13 public hearing.

Through its special permit application, Wilton Heights is seeking permission to redevelop properties at 300 Danbury Road and several on Whitewood Lane with mixed-use buildings consisting of 24,000-plus square feet of retail space and 74 residential units.

Flaherty said the proposed off-site improvements are “distinctly separate” from Wilton Heights’ site plan.

“The overarching picture is right now, you have no way of walking to your train station. There’s no sidewalk from anywhere that goes to your train station,” said Flaherty. “The primary element of this plan is to provide that sidewalk.”

The proposed off-site improvements include, but are not limited to:

  • Two high-visibility thermoplastic crosswalks with two-foot-wide borders at the Route 7 and 33 intersection;

  • An asphalt sidewalk along the northern edge of the parking lot next to the Gulf gas station on the south side of Route 33;

  • Thermoplastic stamping and a pedestrian ramp with a detectable warning strip on the north side of that parking lot; and

  • More thermoplastic crosswalk designs leading up to and at the train station.

Creating this connection would be “feasible,” built at the applicant’s expense, and benefit more than just “users of the [300 Danbury Road] site,” said Flaherty — “anybody going up and down Danbury Road [would also be able to] use that sidewalk to get to the train station.”

“Right now, you can tell from the travel path that most people cross the bridge, jump over the guardrail and walk down the embankment to get to the train station,” said Flaherty. The pathway, he said, would provide a “safer option” for people to get to the train station while the town “figures out how to build its pedestrian bridge.”

Flaherty said the sidewalks would be maintained by “whoever maintains the lot,” and the off-site improvements would also include “improved lighting and landscaping.”

Noting the steepness of the slope going down to the train station, one commissioner asked if there would be any “handrails or stairs” along that section of the pathway.

Flaherty said he would go back and look into that as well, but said “right now, the idea was to not let perfect be the enemy of good.”

“This is not a fully accessible, five-foot-wide, no-more-than-five-percent kind of sidewalk,” he said.

“This is: We think there’s an opportunity to actually get a walking path here, so we’re going to put the walking path in — but it’s not going to be perfect in that regard.”

Traffic islands

To address the traffic on Danbury Road and provide safe places for pedestrians to stand while crossing the street, Flaherty said, Wilton Heights LLC is also proposing to apply for three traffic islands “on either side” of the Route 7 and 33 intersection.

“We have designed from the train station the whole way to Orem’s,” Wilton Heights developer Paxton Kinol told the planning commission, “and we intend to apply for that.”

The three islands at the Route 7 and 33 intersection would just be “phase one,” said Kinol.

“We’ll spend the money to apply to the state to get approval to do these islands the whole way down [to Orem’s],” he said. “Let’s say you’re developing 200 Danbury Road, which as a retail development proposed, they can do the islands that are right out front of them and we’ll go get the approval for the whole way.”

Kinol said two transportation engineering firms have “concurred that the state’s going to have a very hard time saying no to this when it’s being done with private money, and with the backing of the town.”

Approval for the traffic islands is going to take “a united effort,” said Flaherty.

“We can’t do this alone as an applicant. The town of Wilton, from the top on down … is going to have to be behind this,” he said.

“I think with that cooperative effort — with Wilton saying, ‘This is something we want’ — we’re going to increase our likelihood [of state approval].”

The Planning and Zoning Commission’s Wilton Heights public hearing will continue Monday, Nov. 26, 7:15 p.m., in Room A of the town hall annex.