WEST KINGSTON- Only three residents attended the community workshop for the West Kingston Village Study on Tuesday.
The workshop was part of an ongoing planning process that focuses on identifying means that will reinforce the best qualities and characteristics of villages and places in South Kingstown.
According to South Kingstown Director of Planning Vincent Murray, the purpose of the study is to assess current conditions and provide recommendations for enhancing and protecting their unique and historic character in the future.
“It gives residents, business owners, and public officials a chance to come with us with their concerns and goals for West Kingston,” said Murray. “They are the ones that are in the area so they know what would be best for the area and the real issues in the community. We really value their opinions and suggestions.”
The study is being provided through a Rhode Island Statewide Planning Program Challenge Grant, directed by the Village Planning Steering Committee, with assistance from the South Kingstown Planning Department and project consultant, the Horsley Witten Group, Inc.
The Horsley Witten Group was incorporated in 1988 and is a full-service environmental science and engineering firm. According to Senior Planner Nathan Kelly, the firm utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to their work combining engineering and science with land use planning, economics, and public policy to create innovative solutions to environmental problems.
“We have been working on village plans for several years now,” said Kelly. “The idea is to try to understand land use and what we can do to enhance the area and solve the problems.”
Resident David Gosselin said he attended the meeting because he is a property owner on Liberty Lane in West Kingston and was interested in what changes could be made in the area.
“What is the goal here, what are you trying to do here?” questioned Gosselin. “I think it would be interesting to see if you could make the area into more of a town center.”
Kelly said that due to the research conducted by Horsley Witten and the previous public discussion, there are indications that West Kingston can become more of a community village.
“When you look at the area at first glance, it looks like it is just a residential area but when you really take a close look, you can see there is opportunity for so much more,” said Kelly. “There are opportunities to do other things, maybe we can bulk up the area, increase the activity and really build more of a village feel.”
This was the second community work shop for the village study, the first workshop was held on March 19. Due to the high attendance from the community during the first workshop, both Horsley Witten members and South Kingstown Planning Department members were surprised by the low attendance.
“Tonight was supposed to be a bigger night, I don’t know if we waited too long to hold the second workshop, but we really need to hear from the community,” said Kelly. “We would really like people to come and discuss their main concerns and what could be made better.”
After a brief overview and small public discussion, Murray decided to close the workshop early and said that the planning department will reschedule the workshop in the next few months.
“We really were expecting more of a turn out here since we had over 40 people at our first workshop in March,” said Murray. “We can’t really do the activities or discussion we had planned. We would like to reschedule this so we can have a better public discussion and really here for everyone in the community.”
Residents interested in receiving email updates about the West Kingston Village Study can contact Outreach Coordinator Craig Pereira at firstname.lastname@example.org .